Free Downloadable Tech Backgrounds for Summer!

Memorial Day Weekend is here and you know what that means – it’s the unofficial start of Summer! I couldn’t be more excited for this summer to start. It’s been a long winter here in New England (and psst… it’s still not that warm out yet). I made these bright, warm backgrounds to keep you happy and shining every time you look at your phone or your desktop. Hope you Enjoy!

Summer Download DesktopSummertime Free Download Desktop

Desktop Download

Printable iPhone PreviewSummer Free Download iPhone 6

iPhone Download

Happy Summer all!

xoxo, Erika

 

5 Things I Learned After Becoming A Fur Mom

First time fur mom here! My boyfriend and I have had our little bundle of joy for about a month now. Neither one of us had a puppy growing up, so we’re brand new to this raising-a-well-mannered dog thing. We asked our friends who have dogs questions and our breeder, and we thought we covered all our bases to be ready for little Rooney, but there were some aspects of having a puppy that changed how we lived our life together that we weren’t exactly ready for. 

  1. Basically wait 4 months before you do anything

Depending on when you get your puppy, you’re going to have to wait until they are around 4 months old when they have all their shots to drop them off at puppy daycare or get him/her enrolled in any classes. This can really be hard if you don’t have a lot of help. Puppies’ bladders are really weak so they need to be let out every three hours or so. If you work full-time like Eric and I do, then letting him/her out during the day can be tough. Not to mention getting enough play time! We wish we could stay home with her all day long, but someone’s gotta pay those vet bills. So what to do? Well my parents have been kind enough to come every once and while, but they live far away so we needed to find some help more often during the week. The app Rover has been a life-saver! Rover finds dog sitters in your area to come over and let your pup out and play with them for 30 minutes (which is what we do twice a week) for $15. They also offer overnight sitting! It’s been great and puts our minds at ease when we’re at work. Definitely download this one, it’s great in a pinch. IMG_7185

2. Our house isn’t totally puppy-proof

Sure we knew puppies chew your shoes and your hands but we didn’t really think about everything little thing in their sight. Like the doorstoppers, weather-stripping on the slider, iPhone chargers in the outlet, the dishwasher…? Rooney is very confused by the dishwasher. She knows not to jump on it now but when it closes she scratches and paws at it wondering where all that food smell goes to. Just keep not the obvious in mind and remove whatever you can. The other things you can’t take away? Spray it with sour apple spray. You can use this on your hands too if you have a biter like we do. This stuff doesn’t taste good so they’ll be less likely to chew on it and won’t come back… hopefully. Sometimes Rooney just wants to bite what she wants to bite and puts up with the sour taste. Whatever Roon! IMG_7162

3. Your puppy won’t listen to you right away

Rooney understood “Let’s go inside!” almost immediately for some reason. Any time I said that after she went potty outside she would dash back to the house. But when I say “No!” that was difficult to understand. This frustrated me as I thought she was just ignoring me on purpose because she understood other things I was saying. Puppies aren’t malicious, even though on the fifth time you say, “NO!” and they continue to do what they’re doing it might seem that way. They’re learning just as much as you are. Patience with puppies can be hard, but just stick with it. They’ll get it sooner or later.

4. My routine is no longer the same

Within just a few months of getting Rooney, my work schedule changed from late night shifts (getting out at 3am, no joke), to early mornings (yay! Normalcy!) after 5 years of nights. It was a welcomed change for me as Eric and I could spend more time together, but the shift to my sleep schedule took some getting used to. Enter Rooney. She has to be taken out at 3am and 7am and I have to be ready for work by 7:30am to get there on time for 8am. Yikes. The first two weeks were a blur. Gym was no longer in my routine. Eating was sporadic. But after a couple of weeks, Eric and I made healthy things like going to the gym and eating right priorities. Also, getting Rooney used to our routine is part of her training as well. So if we have to leave for an hour to work out, she has to learn to love her crate. IMG_7010

5. Putting things on hold

Unfortunately, to make sure you have a happy pup and do everything right that means making sacrifices in your own life. Maybe it’s meeting up with friends for drinks at night or taking a trip somewhere, having a puppy means you can’t really do those things until your puppy can hold its bladder for longer than three hours and they’re old enough to either travel with you, or can be left in a kennel. Half of my family lives in California and I want to go meet my new niece (sooner rather than later!), but Rooney can’t be left at a kennel and a 6-hour plan ride in a crate in the luggage area of a plane sounds terrible! So until Eric and I know more, we’ll only be California dreamin’ for the time being. This weekend we’re venturing to Boston for a concert (tickets were bought pre-puppy). It will be our first time leaving Rooney since we got her. We found a Rover sitter to watch her for 24 hours while mom and dad have some time for ourselves. Will be nice not to have to stress and be cooped up in the house. We’ll see how she does!IMG_7198

That’s about it. Not going to lie, having a puppy is hard and the first few weeks we were really questioning if we could handle it. We were both so stressed and kind of sad we were cut off from the world pretty much. But now that Rooney has adapted to our condo and some of our rules (still having trouble not peeing in the house!), it’s been a whole lot better for mom and dad… but we’re definitely looking forward to when she’s no longer a puppy!

xoxo, Erika

Hello Fresh: Pistachio Encrusted Chicken

Hey, everyone! It’s been a while. Sorry about that.

Not sure if you’re like me and love to cook or want to cook and just don’t have enough time to get all those ingredients at the store but I’ve tried a BUNCH of the subscription service at-home food delivery – one being Hello Fresh. If you’re also like me, you’ve used the promotion code offer, got your first package and then cancelled it when the box of food arrived. I also sometimes re-up with a different email so I can use the promo code again – shameful! Whatever people, just trying to save a buck!

Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are two that I’ve done multiple times. I will say I love Hello Fresh’s packaging. They divide each meal into individual boxes so they are easy to store in your fridge and it’s convenient to have all your ingredients together when you go to cook. But I like Blue Apron slightly more because they include ingredients/recipes that I would never cook with otherwise and challenge me beyond what I usually cook. It’s also nice they give you a single serving of the no-so-common ingredients so they don’t go to waste if they aren’t being used all the time.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Okay that being said – I haven’t re-upped with Hello Fresh in a while, so I got this free recipe (and another promo code – WOOO) in the mail and decided to try it the other night. It’s only 498 calories per serving which is great because I’m trying to get bikini ready!

The recipe is pretty easy to follow. First preheat the oven for the chicken. Then prep the chicken by putting a layer of mustard on and the chopped pistachios. Then chop everything else. Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

DISCLAIMER: I thought I wasn’t a wuss and I went full-seed on the jalapeño and it was WAY too spicy for Eric and I. I would remove most of the seeds if you want to enjoy the dish rather than focusing on how spicy it is!

Before you chop, cook the quinoa. I used veggie stock to cook it in rather than the concentrate – I think it worked well and it was just easier to prepare.

Put all the veggies in a bowl and add salt and pepper, lime juice and the olive oil. This veggie medley is so yummy even just by itself or can be used as another side dish for another meal. It’s easy to put together and full of flavor. I will say it’s usually easy and quick but my sou chef had a couple of accidents I had to clean up as well. She just loves to help in the kitchen 🙂 Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Okay time to season the quinoa. I didn’t have sherry vinegar so I just used red wine vinegar but it got the same flavor profile across. Just add the salt and pepper and some olive oil and it’s time to plate! Plop some quinoa down (even amount on both plates), then add your veggie medley generously on top. The chicken should just be ready to come out of the oven. Take the breast and put it on top of everything. I didn’t cut mine into slices which I think is okay.

That’s it! This is a taste of what Hello Fresh is like so if you enjoyed making this, try them out!

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xoxo,

Erika

Pistachio Encrusted Chicken:

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup quinoa 
  • 1 unit of vegetable concentrate
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 12 oz of chicken breasts
  • Dijon mustard
  • Olive oil
  • 1 oz of shelled pistachios 
  • 1 persian cucumber
  • 1 jalapeño
  • .25 oz of mint
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 1 lime
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the vegetable stock concentrate, quinoa, 1 cup water, and a pinch of salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes, until tender.
  2. Prep the chicken: Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of mustard evenly on top of the chicken breasts.
  3. Roughly chop the pistachios and press into the mustard to adhere. Place the chicken in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a knife.
  4. Wash and dry all produce. While the chicken cooks, dice the cucumber. Halve, peel, and finely dice the shallot. Core, seed, and dice the tomato. Roughly chop the mint leaves. Zest and halve the lime. Dice the jalapeño, removing the seeds and ribs if you prefer less heat. In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, tomato, shallot, lime zest, half the mint, and as much jalapeño as you like. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of oil.
  5. Season the quinoa: When the quinoa is ready, fluff with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in a splash of sherry vinegar and a drizzle of oil, to taste.
  6. Finish: When the chicken is cooked through, remove from oven to rest for 3 minutes before thinly slicing. Serve the pistachio- crusted chicken on a bed of quinoa. Spoon the cucumber jalapeño salad over the top. Garnish with the remaining mint. Enjoy!

My Love Affair with Pizza

I remember back in grade school on the first day we would always pair up with someone and ask questions to get to know our classmates. Always things like “What’s your favorite color?” or “What’s your favorite song?” Always, always the question: “What’s your favorite food?” I remember answering this question the same for a few years: “Pizza” as did other kids. I remember one year one of my teachers got a little annoyed at this saying, “Come on everyone! Pizza is such a boring answer! Not very creative!” I tended to agree with her, but the more and more I experienced different pizza from different parts of not just the USA but in other countries – pizza is not boring at all!

Growing up in New England (Massachusetts) it was normal to have pizza one night a week (still do, sorry not sorry). We had hundreds (it felt like) mom and pop places to choose from, all with their different special. I remember Wednesday nights it was buy one get one free at the pizza spot across the street from my ballet studio. We’d pick it up on the way home and it was delicious. Nothing too special – regular (not super think) crust, cheese, pepperoni and marinara. Got the job done and it wasn’t Pizza Hut or Dominos (ew). But little did I know this isn’t the case everywhere. In New England there are a lot of Italian families that passed on their family’s tradition of supplying pizza to the masses. But places like California I found to be very different.

Bar, New Haven

Moving to Connecticut opened the door to New Haven pizza. People are always asking me, “What’s the big deal with New Haven pizza? It’s just pizza.” To those I say – “Um no, lets go to Bar.” Seriously, I’m all about pizza education. Bar is my
favorite pizza spot in New Haven because of their amazing coal-fired crust and their mashed potato pie. Yes I said mashed potato. Globs of mashed potatoes are put on top with garlic, awesome cheese and of course bacon. Sounds weird, but trust me – one of the best things you’ll put in your mouth or smell. New Haven also has Frank Pepe’s (get the clam pizza) and Modern. My other two favorites that you would not have to twist my arm to go to. The thing about New Haven pizza is you can track the

Old menu at Modern in New Haven (Amy Kundrat, Eater)

history of the city with pizza.

Frank’s was the first and the nationally-acclaimed and then the rest followed. They fed the workers in that area with their pizza on their lunch breaks. Pizza is deeply rooted in that city and other cities on the east coast, the most obvious one being New York City.

Okay how the hell am I going on and on about New Haven pizza knowing the king of pizza (NYC) is just less than 2 hours away. New York pizza is a little different as the crusts vary in thickness (New Haven style is really thin) and there are different ovens around the city. I’ve been lucky enough to get to taste Lombardi’s pizza which is the first pizza place in America. It’s freaking delicious. You can get a slice

Lombardi’s (Richard Grigonis)

if you want or sit down and have a pie and a beer with friends. Simple, fresh toppings and friendly staff. Another spot is Prince St. Pizza that used to be Original Ray’s but it was done over. Before I lose you – they make the BEST Sicilian slice ever. For those of you who don’t know, Sicilian slices are square with a thick crust (not as thick as Chicago style though) and they top it with high quality pepperonis. There is always a line out the door for these slices and nowhere to sit. You just set up shop on

Prince St. Pizza’s Sicilian Slice (J Kenji Lopez-Alt, Serious Eats)

the sidewalk. Seriously worth it. NYC’s pizza has a crispy bottom so when you pick it up you don’t get the flop. It melts in your mouth. NYC’s pizza scene is constantly changing but these two spots will stand the test of time. Also fun fact – Lombardi’s and some of the other original spots in NYC, have coal fire ovens that are no longer allowed to be built in the city. The spots that already have them established are allowed to keep them, just no new ones can be built. The rest are pretty much gas fire ovens but they’re still delicious. Try a little of both! Okay now comes California. I moved there when I was 18 to San Francisco and when I was looking for a neighborhood pizza joint I had some issues. There was this place called

little-star

Slice from Little Star (Rebecca A. Foertsch, Foodspotting)

Round Table. Not great, and my Cali friends raved about it. I was thinking, “Is this really
all they know?” I don’t believe any of them had been to the east coast, or at the very least went and didn’t have pizza (mistake!). So I was determined to find that pizza spot that reminded me of home. Full disclosure: I don’t hate Chicago style pizza. I know, I know. I’m supposed to pick a side and I’m supposed to hate eating pizza with a knife and a fork because I’m from the east coast, but I don’t. So shoot me. San Francisco has an amazing Chicago style spot on Divisadero called Little Star. They have a crust made with cornmeal which isn’t the norm for Chicago crust and it’s fantastic. I don’t mind waiting a little while for the pizza to be cooked, it only makes the anticipation greater. But Chicago style isn’t San Francisco! Where’s the spot I can go for a quick slice in the window like back home? Cut to me turning 21, getting drunk in the Marina, and looking for that perfect food at the end of the night. It’s always pizza. I turn the corner and there it is! Pizza Orgasmica. The line is long but if this pizza lives up to its name, we have a winner. And it did! Walked in, no where to sit, pizza by the slice, quick in and out. I’m home! And even if you’re not drunk – Pizza Orgasmica is awesome. And they brew their own beer. Get there if you’re ever in the city. After I left to take my talents back to the east

Pizza Orgasmica in the Marina District (sanfranciscodays.com)

coast, went to visit friends and they wanted to go for pizza. Geez easier said than done in SF, but one of my now favorite pizza places (out of both coasts) is Beretta in the Mission District. They have thin crust pizza (sorry New Haven still takes the cake or pie on that one) with very inventive toppings and a surprisingly awesome wine and beer list. I got a Hungarian wine there once and it paired perfectly to my pizza. So if you’re ever in SF and want pizza – these are the spots to go. But don’t expect the NYC experience. Still a lot of Round Tables, Pizza Huts and Dominos lurking around every corner.

So to that fifth grade teacher who told me pizza is boring as a favorite food choice – you’re wrong! Stop eating Dominos, lady.

2017: I Resolve to…

Okay – I’m going to be that annoying chick with the New Year’s Resolutions. Sorry, not sorry. The new year always makes me feel motivated to improve my life. A couple of these you would expect, but some of these are off the beaten path and hopefully I inspire you all to adopt these throughout the year. I’m including some images from my Instagram feed from 2016 as a snapshot of my year on this post as well. Lots from travels and lots with Eric! 

A few of my friends and I were discussing resolutions. Do they have to be year-long or do you just have to achieve it and be done with it? I think resolutions can be a mix of both. If you have a resolution to lose 20 lbs and you do it by June – you did it! But if you have a resolution to read more, you probably should try to keep that up all year. Not read one book and call it quits. That being said – that was one of mine last year and I definitely read 10+ books this year and love having a book to read right before bed. So relaxing!

  1. Eat better, work out more, blah blah blah – You know the number one resolution and it’s mine every year. This year I plan on trying to lose the weight I want by summer so I can feel confident on the beach/at the pool and wear that goal dress in my closet. You know what that is. Every girl has one. That one dress that fit you at your smallest and now you might be able to squeeeeeeeze into it or it just may not fit at all. But you know that it can and you know you look and feel fabulous in it. I am determined to do it this year and keep the weight off. Seriously guys – my eating habits towards the end of the year and my absence from the gym was no bueno. My plan of attack is to meal plan. I work in a place where we have a cafeteria. This cafeteria is convenient, especially when I don’t have time to cook before work which is often. I work at night and during the evening hours of the cafeteria they don’t supply us with the healthiest options. None that are quick anyway. I am trying to avoid this place like the plague. I am going to try to cook all my food for the week on Saturdays (my Monday, yes that is terrible but that’s a post in itself). I also plan on cutting out some things – white flour, red meat and unnecessary bread consumption. I love bread and cheese but I need to cut way back. I will not deprive myself though – these things make me happy so if I work out my planned 4-5 days per week, I don’t feel like having a little bread and cheese with some red wine is a total cheat/loss.
  2. Detox – Started out 2017 with the stomach flu – so that was a physical detox (only lasted 24 hours and it’s a nice clean slate…? Haha). But what I’m talking about here is detoxing the rest of my life, not just what I eat. I have too many clothes. It’s been this way since I was old enough to obsessed with fashion. But I really need to go through and purge some things I know I won’t be wearing – ever again (my goal dress can stay! I have hope everyone! It’s a pink seersucker strapless dress, so cute!). Some I might try to sell and others I will just donate. I’m also going to try the year rule this year. I will turn all my hangers around and in January 2018, if there are some hangers that haven’t been turned around it means I didn’t wear them and they have to go! Another thing I want to detox is negativity. It’s so easy for me to be negative whether it’s because of my job or the current status of the world, I really want to try to focus on good things ahead and little wins throughout the day. I feel like keeping up with number one will help me with that. Detoxing from negative thinking will also help me be a happier person, I don’t want my job or things I can’t control to change who I am.
  3. Learn new things – I really want to make an effort to try new things. I’ve already taken the first steps in booking a snowboarding lesson at the end of the month in Vermont. I’ve snowboarded before but I never really learned it properly. Eric loves to ski so I would like to be able to do this with him in the winter months so he has a mountain buddy. It will just be another thing we can do together. I do surf and skimboard, so snowboarding is the obvious next thing. But I don’t really like the cold… at all. I get cold easily even though I’ve lived in New England mostly my whole life, I just never warmed up to the snow and snow sports (heh see what I did there?). But in recent years I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of a fresh coat of snow and the wonderful things New England offers year-round, not just summers on the Cape (Chatham year-round is actually the best!). I want to learn new things in the kitchen as well. It could just be cooking with a new ingredient like lentils (I want to make lentil soup this winter) or a new technique. Learning something new at work also interests me. Working in social media we have access to a lot of creative programs, one being After Effects. I would love to learn how to do some basics because knowing more in that area will only help me in the future.
  4. Be the good in the world – Okay guys, real talk. This year I’ve seen things done in this country and around the world that are just deplorable. It has been said that 2016 is a garbage fire of a year and I tend to agree. But I believe 2017 will be harder. Trying not to get too political here (but I did graduate with a Politics degree from the same university as Nancy Pelosi so I wouldn’t just be spewing half-cocked ideas), but fighting for what is right and what people deserve will get harder and harder. As laws are repealed and needed services are defunded and the rich get richer – it will be more important for our voices to be heard. And, for the sake of trying to be more positive this year, I believe the greatness of this country will shine in the darkness. Poetry, art and music will be at its best because the inspiration of the message will mean so much more. I plan on speaking up against those who spread intolerance and hate anyway I can. This isn’t political. It’s just plain right vs wrong. Disenfranchising others because they’re different from you is weak. Treating others with respect and equality is strength.

There you have it. My resolutions for 2017. Here’s to hopefully keeping them and my sanity in 2017. Do you have any you’d like to share? Let me know!

xoxo,

Erika

European dreamin' #paris #takemeback

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Happy 4th of July! #usa #4thofjuly #capecod

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Beautiful day in #newport yesterday 😍

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Thanks for such a beautiful day at the park, Milan! See you Wednesday 😊 #Milan #Europe #eurotrip2016

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Congratulations Ben and Lauren! #carolinaandcrimson #nashville

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Congratulations @kmn1685 and @mattsivillo! #sivillopalooza

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Thanksgiving in CT. #happythanksgivng #holiday #love

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Me and my Owl! 🦉 #temple #tumf #owls #philly #holiday #christmas

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Packing List: Christmas in Philly

So excited to be leaving for Philly in a few days to celebrate Christmas with Eric and our families. Because our schedules are crazy and Eric and I are working on Christmas, we’re celebrating a little earlier this year. I ordered food from the yummiest market in Philadelphia, DiBruno Bros! They have the best cheese deli ever! I am obsessed with cheese and they let me try a bunch of samples before I commit to a whole chunk. Check them out if you’re ever in the city. I packed up all of my outfits for the weekend, all with a little holiday flare. Check them out!photo-dec-19-12-01-33-pm

Day 1: Day Look: I will be working until really late the night before so my roll out of bed outfit is this amazingly comfy, yet stylish chunky sweater from Target, leather leggings from Target and a black blouse from Forever 21. Paired with my matte black Hunter boots, which I have been living in all season so far! I’ll put my hair up in a sock bun and look put together even though I’ll only have about 4 hours of sleep. Yuck! Eric will let me sleep in the car though 🙂

Night look: I’m going to change into this Anthropologie white blouse with a red cami underneath for a pop of color and throw on my BCBG grey booties. I’m also going to wear the amazing necklace I got in this season’s FabFitFun box. We’re finally getting to Pizzeria Vetri for dinner and hopefully getting to the Orchestra to see Home Alone… LIVE! Yes, John Williams’ Home Alone music being performed live with the movie. Doesn’t that just sound like a wonderful Christmas time?photo-dec-19-12-05-32-pm

Bonus: Christmas Jammies!: I found these festive PJ bottoms at Target (I always buy more than I should there, love it so much!) that I just had to have for the weekend. This “ill” sweatshirt is Eric’s and I think it’s so cool. Have to have some Philly flare when trying to stay cozy in the city. And don’t forget the Ugg moccasin slippers, too! photo-dec-19-12-27-27-pm

Day 2: Day Look: My absolute favorite jeans are these Citizen of Humanity jeans I splurged on as a birthday present to myself in October. They fit perfect! And it’s tough for that to happen when you’re almost 6 ft tall. I’m pairing it with this sweater I got at Nordstrom’s Black Friday. It’s actually Roxy which I haven’t worn since high school, but it’s such a cute knit and color. Great find!

Night Look: Changing my sweater to a Temple tee and a J Crew chambray shirt. We’re going to go see some Owl basketball hopefully kick some Yale butt! Hope to get over to Alla Spina before or after the game. Such a great spot for drinks and inventive Italian food.photo-dec-19-12-13-07-pm

Day 3: Day Look: Our Christmas celebration day! During the day I’ll be wearing this festive Anthro sweater with little sliver sparkles on the edges and red Pilcro jeans.

Night Look: I’ll be changing into this J Crew silver shiny skirt paired with this Target plaid shirt, finished with a J Crew statement necklace to add some shimmer. I’m also wearing some black Mary Janes that I bought forever ago from DSW. The heel is a little thicker which makes them so comfortable. We’ll be spending the night in our Airbnb apartment enjoying our delicious meal together.photo-dec-19-12-20-18-pm

Day 4: Going home (nooo!): For a comfy ride home I’ll wear my favorite jeans, the Target sweater and a red blouse. I’ll have to go from the car to work that night, too. All on Christmas Eve. I hate working Christmas but at least I’ll have had three days in the lovely city of Philadelphia with my family and Eric.photo-dec-19-12-24-07-pm

Do you have any Christmas traditions you do with your family? I’d love to hear about them! 

Happy Christmas!

xoxo, Erika

Molasses Christmas Crinkle Cookies

It’s terribly cold today! What better way to stay away than baking inside? I had some leftover molasses from Thanksgiving and wanted to find another way to use it. I came across these old-fashion, traditional Christmas cookies that are so moist and gives you all the flavors of the holidays. 

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First, beat one egg in your mixing bowl well after preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then add in your sugar and oil. Whisk that up

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until it’s blended really well. Then add in your molasses, baking soda and spices and whisk that all together really well. Now grab a wooden spoon because it’s time to mix in the flour. This recipe

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calls for white, all-purpose flour but I actually used whole wheat. The conversion ratio is using 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour for every 1 cup of white flour. It worked really well if you want to try it. Here is what your batter should look like at every stage:

Now it’s time to get your hands dirty! First mix together a cinnamon and sugar mixture (you should have more sugar than cinnamon). Then spread it around on a flat surface because you’re going to roll the dough in this. I put my sugar cinnamon mix on a large plate so I didn’t dirty my countertops even more than I already had. Grab a tablespoon measuring stick and measure out your cookie balls. Next, roll the dough around in your hand to make cookie balls (insert Schweddy Balls SNL joke here). The dough should be thick enough so this will be easy to do. Then roll the ball around in the cinnamon and sugar and place the ball on your baking sheet. Repeat this until you’ve filled your baking sheet. Here’s the progress:


Now it’s time to bake! 13 minutes I found for mine was perfect! As you can see below I put mine slightly too close together. I had a big pan and wanted to fit them all on ones sheet instead of doing two batches. Silly me! They taste great though and are just a little misshapen.

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There you have it! The perfect classic Christmas cookie that sure is a people pleaser. Do you have a favorite Christmas baking recipe? Let me know! I’d love to hear about your holiday baking traditions! 

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Happy holidays!
xoxo, Erika 

Ingredients:
•1 large egg
•⅔ cup oil
•1 cup sugar
•⅓ cup unsulphered molasses
•1½ tsp cinnamon
•1½ tsp ground ginger
•½ tsp nutmeg
•½ tsp Kosher salt
•2 tsp baking soda
•2¼ cups all-purpose flour
•sugar and cinnamon for rolling

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat egg in a large mixing bowl, then whisk in oil & sugar.
3. Add the molasses, spices, salt and baking soda, mix well.
4. Now, add the flour and mix well. It will make a stiff dough.
5. Sprinkle a large surface with sugar and a little cinnamon
6. Roll 1 tablespoon size scoops of the dough into balls and coat in the cinnamon sugar.
7. Place on ungreased baking sheet, approximately 3″ apart.
8. Bake 12-13 minutes, until golden brown and crinkled on top.
9. Cool and serve.

DIY: Scandinavian winter shadow village

I absolutely love the look and simplicity of Norwegian and Swedish (i.e. IKEA which is all over our condo) winter decor. This lovely winter light display is a wonderful edition to your mantel or, if you’re like me, your fireplace. It’s easy to make and I’ve provided the stencil printout for you in Step 1 of this post.

Heres what you’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • White card stock (2 sheets)
  • Tape (scotch or masking)
  • Utility or X-Acto knife
  • Pencil
  • Slat of wood (16 inches long, less than an inch tall when laid flat)
  • 2 flameless tea light candles
  • 1 sheet printer paper

Step 1: Print your stencil – the tracings of the village should fit on to one sheet of printer paper. There are three pieces of the village but one you will repeat.

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This is your printable!

Step 2: Cut out the pieces – cut the outline of the village pieces and use your utility knife to get all the windows and doors. Any place you see a dot in the middle (underneath The bird house doesn’t have a dot but cut that out too) means you’ll have to cut out with your knife rather than the scissors.

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Step 3: Trace – use the cutouts from the printer paper and traces them onto your card stock. Trace the village piece that has only one house and a lot of mountain twice. This will be your background.

Step 4: Cut out your pieces – repeat basically what you did to Cut out your tracer. The part with the pencil showing will be flipped over so you can’t see it.

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Step 5: Tape – now you have all your pieces it’s time to tape them to your wood. Tape the picee with the church and the piece with the animals to the front of the wood, covering the from part of the slat. Next take the two hill pieces and tape them the same way on the other side of the wood. Make sure you stagger them so they can be seen well and will make for a good shawdow effect. It should look like something like this:

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Step 6: Let there be light! – place your candles on top of the wood between the two walls of paper. Make sure the lights are hidden behind the tallest part of the village.

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All done! Now just find a spot in your home to display your winter village to give your place a touch of Scandinavian charm. Sit back with some hot coco and enjoy the fruits of your craftiness! Happy decorating everyone!

 

8 Fool-Proof Gifts for Him

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year (Summer is pretty huge too and no snow – YAY!). I LOVE giving gifts. Seeing the look on the person’s face after they open is the absolute best. But sometimes it’s hard to find the perfect thing for someone. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over… but don’t think you’re too late! Stores are going to be having sales from now until the new year. Sometimes buying for your guy, your brother, your dad or whoever is that special man in your life – is hard! These eight gifts are great options even for the pickiest of dudes. Most of these I have bought for my boyfriend and they were big hits! Hope this helps with your holiday shopping!

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My guy I stay warm with in New England winters

  1. Daniel Wellington watch ($229)– I absolutely love Daniel Wellington watches (for women, too!). They are elegant, classic and they go with almost anything. The face is larger and more minimalist than the usual watch which adds so much style, effortlessly. This will be your guy’s new go-to watch and he’ll think of you every time he puts it on!img_2339
  2. Google Chromecast ($35) – This is now a  staple in our house. Streaming content from different apps to the TV is so great! You don’t have to watch it on the smaller iPad or iPhone screen, or struggle to hear the sound. This is major key when Netflix and chilling this winter – and let’s face it… when it’s cold and snowing in the next coming months, there’s not much else you would rather be doing. And the price tag cannot be beat!img_2341
  3. Personalized Credit Card Bottle Opener ($1.85 + $10 for monogramming) – Eric and I are beer lovers and we ran into the “Dang it! I don’t have a bottle opener!” situation on the beach multiple times, at a friend’s home or you’re too lazy to get off the couch to get one. Whatever the situation is, this will make sure your guy is always hooked up as long as he has his wallet. Eric and my brother get a lot of comments on theirs and always asks where to get them. I got them engraved at Things Remembered in the mall but the credit card opener itself on Amazon. With or without the monogram, it’s so handy!img_2342
  4. Ice Sphere Mold ($11) – One of my guy’s hobbies is whiskey and these ice cubes melt perfectly in his glass, slowly so it doesn’t water-down the taste. These are a great stocking stuffer and they impress guests when you give them a drink with one of these.img_2343
  5. Tech-friendly gloves ($49.50) – When it’s cold you need gloves… you might also need to text/use navigation/look at my blog 😉 so this winter accessory is an absolute must for anyone who doesn’t have them. You can get them at most stores now, but I love J. Crew’s.img_2344
  6. Leather Tech Tacos ($25) – Eric and I travel a lot so these are so useful when packing up electronics. They won’t get tangled and the leather design is manly and classy. Another great stocking stuffer.img_2345
  7. Where Chefs Eat ($15.50) – Eric and I are total foodies so this book was interesting to read to see where chefs we appreciate like to go when in certain cities. Eric and I find ourselves in NYC, Boston, Philly and San Francisco often so this is a great reference when we want to find a cool new spot for dinner. Anyone who loves to travel and food will appreciate this one.img_2346
  8. L.L. Bean slippers ($69) – These slippers are so comfy and warm, and because they are L.L. Bean they have a lifetime warranty! Eric lives in these during the winter months and with the rubber bottoms you can even walk outside to get the mail with no worries. These are pretty manly too as far as slippers go and I love that they’re called “wicked good” – because they are! 🙂img_2347

I hope that helps you all with your holiday-shopping search for the perfect present. Did you buy your guy the perfect present last year that isn’t on the list? Tell me about it! 

Happy Holidays!

xoxo, Erika

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Lynn Love with Trader Joe’s: Pumpkin Edition

It’s Fall and you know what that means… pumpkin! I’m one of those people that love everything pumpkin and my favorite place to get my fill is Trader Joe’s! They make almost everything pumpkin flavored, and that makes me a happy camper come October.

I bought everything I would potential make this fall/winter that I could – here’s a recap.

  1. Organic canned pumpkin – I love Trader Joe’s canned pumpkin. It’s organic and supports a family-owned farm in Oregon that grows… pumpkins! It’s so delicious and the price point is so reasonable. Like all things at Trader Joe’s!canned-pumpkin
  2. Pumpkin bagels – I know bagels aren’t the most healthy breakfast food, but every now and then I like a break from my Trader Joe’s whole wheat British muffins and what better than a pumpkin-y treat? The flavor in them is great, I just wish they were a little fluffier/thicker for an easier, more even cut when I put it in the toaster. But I love this on my days off in the morning with Eric and our coffee. pumpkin-bagels
  3. Pumpkin cereal bars – I take a lot of these type of items to work because I have zero time to cook during the week and it’s easy to grab one of these on my way out the door. The pumpkin filling is so yummy! It gives me a little treat around 8pm when I realize I still have about 6 hours left of my shift.pumpkin-bars
  4. Pumpkin cereal – I usually buy the Trader Joe’s low-fat almond granola cereal and then I saw this one when searching the shelves. Very similar to what I normally buy but with a pumpkin twist. No-brainer!pumpkin-cereal
  5. Pumpkin cranberry crisps – I buy these every year! I’m a big cheese person so I love when I find a new vessel for my dairy delight. I am also a New Englander through and through so the cranberry tartness in these is delicious! They pair perfectly with goat cheese or my all-time favorite cheese, Humbolt Fog. Can’t wait to bust these open with a glass of red wine. pumpkin-crisps
  6. Pumpkin harvest salad – I haven’t seen this skew in Trader Joe’s before so I was really excited to try it. Eric and I grilled some chicken to go with it but when I opened the bag to get the salad together, only the greens were in the bag! No pumpkin vinaigrette, no pumpkin croutons… just greens. I was so sad! We actually crunched up some of the pumpkin crisps and put our own cheese and dressing on it. It was fine but I wanted to try the complete salad. What a complete waste!pumpkin-salad
  7. Pumpkin waffle mix – Eric and I love cooking breakfast together. We usually just have eggs, toast, bacon and home fries – we love breakfast – but sometimes we want pancakes. Some friends of mine have bought this mix and love it so I wanted to try it out. Can’t wait for a chilly fall morning with Eric to test them out. Pumpkin and pancakes – sounds like a winner to me!pumpkin-waffels

I have certainly stocked up my cabinet with pumpkin deliciousness. I absolutely love fall and all these tastes and smells only enhance the season. Do you love fall as much as I do? Did I miss your favorite pumpkin item from Trader Joe’s? Tell me yours! Love to hear about it! 

Happy pumpkining! 

xoxo,

Erika