Monday, October 31, 2011

Fresh Pumpkin Puree

I only found it fitting to include a pumpkin recipe for Halloween.   This recipe looks like baby food and you can probably use it for that too but I plan on using the puree for pumpkin butter.  You can also use it for pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, etc.  I used a sugar pie pumpkin because they are sweet and the texture of the puree becomes very smooth.  


1 sugar pie pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

Cut off the stem of pumpkin and cut the pumpkin horizontally in half.  Remove the seeds with a spoon.  Place the pumpkin halves open end down on a baking pan covered with parchment paper.

Roast pumpkin in oven for about 90 minutes.  Take out of the oven and let them cool.  Scoop out flesh with a spoon once it is cooled completely.  Blend the flesh in a food processor or blender.  Use right away or store in fridge.

You have the option for reserving the seeds to make roasted pepitas.

Make sure you use a very sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half.  I sharpened my knife right beforehand.  A dull knife can be pretty dangerous for a task like this.

When you are done roasting, the pumpkin should look like this.  The flesh should be very soft to touch and easy to scoop out with a spoon.

Blend pumpkin in a blender.  I think a food processor is easier for this task instead of a blender because there isn't a lot of liquid to help the blender blend.  I didn't realize this 'til after I put it all into the blender. 

It is Halloween so I had to include these pictures into the post.  I found a cutie patootie Halloween costume for Gracie at Old Navy.  She is supposed to be a banana split.  When I put it on her, she was not amused at all.  Nope... not at all.  First, she wouldn't lift her head up and then she pretended that she was tired.


I think the cherry on her head is so funny!  She is probably wondering why I even do this to her.  Lol.  If only I could go instead her head to see what she is really thinking.


Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Friday!

Like my shoes?  They fancy huh?  I just picked them up from J Crew and they remind me of cross between Dorothy from Wizard of Oz and Carrie Bradshaw.  I think they are sorta awesome and this weekend, I will be frolicking around in the green grassy fields with these glitter ballet flats.  We are shooting our family holiday portraits with the fabulous Leila Brewster.  For these portraits, I thought about trying to make it look like fall in sweaters and scarfs but it is really hard to try and pretend like it is cold in the 80 degree weather so I give up.  Gold glitter flats it is!  Hope you have a great and safe weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Roasted Delicata Squash and Sweet Yams

It is definitely fall and we're in the bounty of root veggies and squash.  There are so many varieties out there and I want to put the spotlight on delicata squash today.  It is seriously an under appreciated, unknown vegetable to most people and it is such a lovely variety of squash.  It is sweeter than butternut squash and also has a thinner edible skin which I like because I don't have to peel off the skin before cooking with it and who doesn't need the extra fiber these days?

Roasting is the easiest and most delicious way to cook these vegetables in my opinion.   I left the skins on the squash and yam because I can and they are organic.  If you are using conventional produce, I would recommend peeling the skin before you roast.


Delicata squash, de-seeded and cut into chunks
Sweet yams, scrubbed and cut into chunks
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Lay veggies flat in a single layer on the baking pan.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast about 15 minutes per side for a total of 30 minutes and toss the vegetables once after the first 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Roasting tip:  The cooking time will really depend on how many veggies you put on the baking pan.  If the baking pan is completely full, it will probably take about 15 to 17 minutes per side.  However, if you only have a few veggies on the baking pan, it can take as little as 5 minutes so adjust the time accordingly and be close to the oven when you do this so you can eyeball it.

If you want, you can save the seeds of the squash and roast them for a little snack.  

I like roasting the yams and the squash in a single layer so both sides caramelize.  This is the good stuff.  The crust creates a nice texture and the natural sugars come out and sweeten the yams and squash.  It is seriously as good as it gets.  No additional sugar is needed.  Really.... no marshmallows or brown sugar.  It is already sweet as is.

This is so delicious and super easy to make.  It is also perfect to serve as a side for Thanksgiving and Christmas to balance out the other heavier dishes that you know you are going to eat too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I made my oatmeal cookies last night for my coworker's birthday and as I was driving to work this morning.... I looked down at my passenger side seat and OMG I totally forgot to bring them to work with me!  I think I'm turning into more of a scatterbrain as I get older.  Just a little reminder that I am not in complete control of my life as much as I want to be.  I couldn't turn back especially with the crazy traffic so I stopped by 85C Bakery to pick up some baked goodies as a replacement.

I took some pics with my phone because Mat took my camera to work with him.  I guess it all worked out in the end because I get to save these cookies for myself now.  The texture of these cookies are seriously the best.  Crispy and chewy at the same time.  You got to try it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DIY Painted Geometric Ikea Erslev Rug

The past couple months I have been on the lookout for an affordable decorative rug but we all know how expensive rugs are.  A large area rug can easily be $500 and up so I decided to make my own.  I first came across this DIY project through the amazing blog Design*Sponge and oh-so-creative Holly.  I'm sorry  that I cannot claim this as my own design and creation.  It came from Holly and I made a couple tweaks to the instructions because I used a bigger Ikea Erslev rug which had the dimensions of 5' 11" by 8' 2".

Time Commitment
2 to 3 hours to tape the rug
2 hours to cut the tape design on rug
1 1/2 hours to paint
Estimated total time spent:  6 1/2 hours + clean up time

1 Ikea Erselv rug 5'11" by 8' 2"
2 quarts of paint (I used the Olympic flat paint in Admirality and bought a gallon to be cost effective)
4 4-ounce Liquitex fabric medium bottles (fyi, fabric medium is also known as textile medium)
1 paint roller (I used a 9-inch roller)
1 paint brush
1 paint tray
2 rolls of 1.4 inch wide Frog tape
yard stick 
x-acto knife
1 5-quart mix and measure plastic bucket (to mix the paint and fabric medium)
paint mixing stick
plastic sheeting

Here are my notes and instructions
*I underlined a couple important points I noticed during the process.

I knew I was working with a bigger rug than Holly so I needed more squares for the design.  I made 6 squares across the 5' 11" side of the rug and 8 squares across the 8' 2" side of the rug.  I made each square exactly 8 1/2 inches wide (including the tape widths on each side) and spread the squares 3 inches in between one another.  Holly's design was inspired by Jonathan Adler's design.  I had to look up the design for myself to see the original vision for the rug design.

I noticed a couple things while I was calculating the dimensions for the design.  The Frog tape I used to make the tape design on the rug was 1.4 inches wide (not 1.5 inches like some of the labels will say).  Also, I calculated the dimension of 5'11" by 8' 2" to be 71 inches by 98 inches.  However, when I actually measured the rug, it was 71 inches by 94 inches.  I wasted an hour of time taping and re-taping one side because the dimensions were off so measure the rug before you start taping and calculate the dimensions.  I did not include the time spent on my mishap in my estimated total time spent mentioned earlier in this post.  My lesson learned.  Do not trust the dimensions on the label of the rug.  I don't know if it just happened to me or all the rugs are like this. 

First, I laid out the rug on plastic sheeting and started to tape the rug with the help of my yard stick and scissors.  I took lots of breaks during this part of the project.  It gets a bit tiring to be completely honest.  Easy but tiring.

My sweet little dog kept me company the entire time.  She really is my BFF.

I used long pieces of tape to go across the rug and short pieces of tape to connect the squares.  The ridges of the rug really helped to keep my lines pretty straight.

I carefully cut the design with an x-acto knife.  I was first scared that I could cut the rug with the x-acto knife but it only cut the tape.  This task takes some precision.

Before you paint, press down on the edges of the tape to make sure the seal is as tight as it can be.  

Mix the paint and fabric medium in a plastic bucket.  I used a mix and measure plastic bucket that had measurement labels on the side so I could pour exactly 2 quarts of paint into the bucket.  When I mixed the fabric medium into the paint, I noticed that the white fabric medium made my paint color a shade or 2 lighter than I originally planned.  It turned out looking nice in the end but please be aware of that.

Paint away.  Be careful to get all the white spots but also do not press too hard on the rug with the paint roller.  The paint will seep in under the Frog tape if you press really hard.  The tape works very well but wasn't prepared for my husband's enormous muscles and strength when he rolled the paint out.  I'm being completely sarcastic but you know what I mean.  If you have some hard spots, go over it with a good ol' paint brush. 

The rug will dry overnight and you can start peeling the tape off once it is completely dry.

I was really happy that the paint dried really well.  It is not flake-y and does not peel!  Yay!

So all in all, I spent $60 on the rug, $26 on the fabric medium that I bought online and had to pay shipping for, $19 on the flat paint,  $16 on the Frog tape, $3 on the plastic bucket.... a total of $124 and the rest of the equipment I already had on hand.  A custom area rug created for a fraction of the normal cost.  Mission accomplished!

EDIT:  This is my vision for a possible living room design.  There are so many possibilities! 

Photo Credit:  Elle Decor

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Disclaimer:  Eating this will produce some serious garlic breath but after one bite, I promise you that you will not care especially if everyone else eats it too.  Then, you will all have garlic breath together and be happy.

This is perfect to take to bbq's and potlucks so that is exactly what I did on Saturday.  It's super easy to prepare but you have to plan ahead to soak the dry beans overnight.  This does not taste like the store bought hummus you usually get at the grocery store.  It's super light and fluffy from the fresh beans and using the canned beans simply does not compare.  It's also healthy and yummy at the same time.

Makes a whole lot of hummus

1 lb garbanzo beans
2 tbs baking soda
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbs tahini
1 tbs parsley (curly or flat leaf) finely chopped
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Place the dry beans in a pot, add the baking soda, and give it a quick stir.  Cover the beans with cold water and soak overnight.

In the morning, rinse the beans a few times with fresh water.  Cover the beans with fresh water and place the pot over the stove.  Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 1 hour.  The beans should be soft to touch.  Drain and reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  Cool the beans to room temperature.  

You have the option to reserve some beans for garnishing the hummus at this point.  Add the rest of the beans to a food processor and blend 'til smooth.  Add roasted garlic of 2 bulbs, lemon juice, tahini, 1 tsp of salt, and 2 tbs of reserved cooking liquid.  Blend 'til smooth.  The hummus should stick to a spoon (do not add too much cooking liquid to the mixture).  Taste and adjust lemon juice, salt, and reserved cooking liquid if necessary. 

Transfer hummus to serving plate and garnish with reserved whole beans, roasted garlic of 2 bulbs, parsley, sprinkle of paprika and drizzle of olive oil.  Save the last bulb for later.  Trust me.  The roasted garlic pieces will be picked out from the top and the last bulb can be saved so you add it later when the hummus is over half eaten.  

Serve with pita bread and veggies.

The hummus stays fresh for about 2 to 3 days in fridge.

Do you remember when I did the roasted garlic for the pizza party?  It is so super soft, sweet and delicious.  The recipe is here.

The consistency of this hummus is extremely fluffy!  When I first tried hummus like this, I couldn't believe how different it was compared to hummus from canned beans. It is on a whole another level.  Mat thought it reminded him of good mashed potatoes. 


Blend the hummus 'til it is really nice and smooth.

This makes a large batch of hummus.  If I was making this for just me and Mat, I would have reduced the ingredients by about 75%.  It really makes that much hummus but it is the perfect amount for large groups of people. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dream Kitchen

Happy happy Friday!  Hurray!  I'm so friggin glad today is finally Friday especially since I thought yesterday was Friday.  Silly me.  I would also like to mention that I just recently started to become active on Pinterest so follow me and we can be friends!  I'm a little late on the bandwagon for this but I have caught on now.  I think this link will take you to my profile. 

I am seriously daydreaming today... about all sorts of things like laying out by the pool with a watermelon margarita, pondering about Elena and Damon's developing relationship on the last Vampire Diaries episode (that show is my most guilty pleasure.... I don't care if my coworker's high school kid watches it too because I still love a good vampire story line), and my dream kitchen.

Photo Credit:  Elle Decor

I would die if I had a kitchen like this.  I love vintage crystal chandeliers and white cabinetry...... pretty yet functional.  

Photo Credit:  I believe this is Sarah Richardson's work

And lots of lots of windows for natural lighting....natural wood accents, a little bit of open shelving, white subway tiles, and vases with pretty, feminine pink flowers.  Yes, I would die.

Photo Credit:  Elle Decor 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I really love my.....

I've only done one post on this series so far and just as a reminder, it is a post about the things I have recently discovered and absolutely love.  I found a couple more items so I hope you like! 

The first item I would like to mention is so super cool and Mat picked it out for me!  My husband shops for me whenever we have the opportunity to shop together.  It is strange and cool at the same time.  He has a great sense of style and always picks out the coolest things that I wouldn't have picked out for myself.  It's always good to have a second opinion too.  It is the Michael Kors Roman Numeral Watch and I am loving the rose gold.  I can mix gold and silver metal tones with this watch too.  It is the perfect every day watch and is practical because it will not break the bank when you buy it.  The band has a nice matte and shiny finish on the links that makes the style look really clean plus the roman numerals look pretty sweet compared to numbered digits on the older versions of this watch. 


The second thing I would like to mention is the Trader Joe's dark chocolate caramel bar with black sea salt.  Have you guys tried this?  It has the perfect balance of flavors.  And yes, I love love love sea salt or fleur de sel on my chocolate or caramel and I'm actually sorry if you don't.  You are totally missing out. 

Okay so my third thing that I absolutely love are my boyfriend jeans.  Jennifer Aniston looks so effortlessly cool wearing them so I knew I wanted them too.  Haha.  I sported them all summer and will continue to sport them all year round because I can in LA.  I own 3 pairs and I have found each of them in between $8 to $11 at the Gap Outlet.  I can't find a link to buy them online at the Gap Outlet but I wouldn't be surprised if you still found them in the store because I just bought my 3rd pair this past Saturday.   Go to the sale section and go through the sale jeans.  You might be lucky and find a pair in your size.  I did 3 times.  I am totally past the days of spending a gazillion dollars on jeans.  $30 and under is my own personal rule. 

Photo Credit:  Shopbop and  Popsugar

On a side note, I woke up this morning thinking it was Friday.  OH so sad!  I'm mixing up my days and I'm looking forward to the weekend so much that I'm totally confused.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DIY Lemon Sugar Scrub

Recently, I was tempted to buy an expensive scrub at the store and had to remind myself that I could make one very easily at home.  I love the smell of this scrub because it is natural.  You can smell the grassy tones of the olive oil and fresh, citrus smell of the lemon zest.  I used this scrub as my reward after my painful workout.  Even if I miss a week of workout, it is so hard to get back into it but I cringe in my sweat, force myself to get through it and chant positive messages to myself while Gracie just stares at me and tries to lick my sweat off of me.  It is sweet but gross too.  Also, here is the recipe for the another DIY scrub that I make.  It is the lemon lavender salt scrub

Makes 1 scrub

3 tbs cane sugar
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbs lemon juice (optional)

Mix the cane sugar and olive oil in a container.  Use a zester to zest the grind of 1 lemon.  Add the lemon zest in and if you want, add in lemon juice.

I put the lemon juice as optional because if your skin is sensitive, you will feel the acid from the lemon juice.  I just add in a little nowadays.   

I used an empty container of one of my favorite bath products.  I love the ginger souffle at Origins.  It smells so good but this scrub also smells therapeutic.  It totally helps me to unwind at the end of a day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I know.... my honeymoon pictures seem never ending.  We first went to Athens, then Kusadasi, Santorini, Zakynthos, Sicily, and now Positano.  I'm about half way done with the pictures with this post.  We lost track of the days while we were there.  It was a bit overwhelming but I planned it that way so we could see as much as possible in a short window of time. 

The view was AH-mazing from the cruise ship.


August is the vacation month for Italy so some spots we went to were majorly populated with locals and tourists like Positano.


You can't tell from any of these pictures but the tiny walking streets were incredibly crowded.  We couldn't get through without touching another sweaty body.  


It was still pretty as could be. 

We didn't leave without taking a few goodies from the grocery store.....

And getting some delicious, cooling gelato.  Mine is the one on the left and Mat's is the one on the right. 

I didn't take a lot of pictures.  After a couple hours, we went straight back to our cruise ship. 


I can definitely see why the celebs lay out on the yachts and sailboats.  I always see that in gossip mags and now I understand.


Rome is next....
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