Friday, October 30

Fun Finds Friday #109

I can't paint my nails but holy moly is this cute or what?!

Last year I bought this coat in green... why wasn't the merlot around last year?!

Fall. Plaid. Want.

+ This would be my list too, Joy!
+ I can only aspire to one day have a garden as awesome as this one.
+ Who else wants to vacation here? Raise your hand!
+ Really?? I mean, really??!!
+ My 10-year reunion is next month and this is kinda how I've been feeling this year.
+ As if I needed an excuse to eat more french fries....
+ A world without smartphones.
+ It's not too late to decorate some pumpkins!

Happy Friday!!!!!

Thursday, October 29

Browned Butter Espresso Brownies

I was going to post something today reflecting about having turned 28 a week ago, but I just don't have much to say about it. One year older, one year wiser, just like last year... I have bigger expectations for the year ahead, and I see a few changes ready to be made, but it's nothing I can quite put into words yet.

So, in lieu of a reflections post, I'm making brownies today and sharing the recipe here. This is just a re-post from an abandoned food blog collaboration amongst friends. I figured I may as well move some of the better recipes over to this space - enjoy!

This is my favorite brownie recipe ever. For me, the perfect brownie should be super indulgent. None of that dry cakey-ness that passes for brownies at the super market. The perfect brownie should have an ever so slightly crunchy 'skin' on the exterior that leads way to chewy melt-in-your-mouth chocolate goodness inside. It's ok if there are chocolate chips in there, but the base of the brownie should really be able to stand on its own.

Before I became a baker my favorite brownie mix was Ghiardelli's- those brownies embodied what a real brownie should be. Then I set foot in the kitchen and for years I absolutely loved the brownie recipe in Tartine- the use of chocolate in them instead of cocoa powder made for intensely rich brownies. But then these fell into my lap mouth and it's been a love-affair ever since. The brown butter adds a touch of nuttiness and the espresso just strengthens that chocolate flavor ten-fold. These are everything a brownie should be. The only terrible thing about them is that they fill your home with amazing chocolate aroma and then you have to wait for them to cool down before you can indulge!

Browned Butter Espresso Brownies

(Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit)

- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons espresso or strong coffee
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare an 8x8" square pan by lining it with foil.

- Melt the butter in a small saucepan; use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir the butter around occasionally. The butter will begin to boil, once this happens keep an eye on it and stir more frequently. The bubbles will get very big and then start to shrink back down and you'll start to see brown specks making their way up to the top. Once the brown specks appear start to scrape the bottom of the pan. When the butter is a light golden brown color, (this shouldn't take more than a minute or two) take the saucepan off the heat.

- In a large mixing bowl combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt with a whisk. Stir in the browned butter, making sure to scrape all the brown speckled goodness out from the bottom of the pan as well. Stir everything well with your wooden spoon or spatula and add the vanilla extract and espresso (or strong coffee), stirring well to incorporate. Add in the eggs and stir well to combine. Add the flour and stir just until incorporated.

- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top starts to crack slightly. Let cool completely before cutting.

- Enjoy! Brownies will keep for a few days in an airtight container; they'll keep even longer in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 28

Snapshots of Barcelona

Barcelona reminded me a lot of Venice. Perhaps it's the proximity to the ocean, but the feel of the city emanated Italy more than it did the rest of Spain. We spent a weekend there, arriving on Friday night and leaving Sunday evening; I booked us a neat airbnb that we didn't end up spending much time at, other than to sleep. Most of our time was spent exploring the city by foot (though our few rides on the metro left me impressed - it's so clean, compared to the ones in the US!).

My mom had gotten tickets for us to visit the Familia de Segrada and Casa Batllo; if you can't see both and have to choose, I would check out Casa Batllo. The Familia de Segrada was also impressive, but I found I appreciated it more afterwards, when looking through the photos I had snapped and marveling in the architecture. It is still under construction, and both places were overrun by tourists, which is unavoidable but makes it difficult to fully appreciate the whole experience. Casa Batllo was a little more personal because of their unique audio tour that allows you to better immerse yourself in the surroundings. I wish we had gotten to see more, but a weekend isn't long enough to see much at all! It rained our first night there and was grey the remainder of the weekend, which gave the whole city a somewhat dreary feel. I'd love to see what it's like when the sun is out.

We ate a lot of tapas and pinchos and drank a lot of wine. Stopped into a gin bar that was heavy on the dating scene. Walked past a variety of fun shops and small boutiques that seemed to go on forever. Roamed the streets at night and took in how the architecture changed when the sun went down. We also walked right into a neighborhood street parade and listened to the fanfare for a while. On our last day there, we wanted to see the ocean. After many roadblocks, (due party to our own stubbornness, and partly to the fact that there was an Iron Man competition going on in Barcelona that day), we finally found a beach. We had to park in an empty restaurant parking lot and go through a tunnel that ran underneath the street, but we finally made it to the beach. Turns out it was a nude beach, though we were the only people there, so we only knew that from a handwritten sign on the side of a rock. After driving for what felt like forever, it felt good to dip our toes in the water and dig our feet into the sand. I collected as much beach glass as I could carry and it's now stored in a mason jar in our living room.

Tuesday, October 27

Project 365, 293-299

293/365: Trader Joe's makes a par-baked ciabatta pizza crust that is delicious. We buy them two at a time and store them in the freezer until we're feeling pizza-y (which, honestly, when are we not feeling pizza-y?) Last week Shawn made pulled pork and we had it on everything, including pizza.

293/365: Cloud patterns make me smile.

293/365: Croissants + crafts (+ nutella) = :-D

293/365: Thursday was my birthday and I worked until 8pm then came home, made tandoori chicken and donuts from scratch, and then fell asleep. It was the most uneventful birthday ever. And my donuts could have been better.

293/365: I'm trying to get into doing yoga at home, but it's difficult to make the space for it (both physically and mentally). So I downloaded a daily yoga app for sequence ideas and wrote them down, because I do so much better when things are on paper.

293/365: This may be my favorite photo of Sly so far!

293/365: Came home Sunday night to this. Lloyd promptly stretched out and then fell right back into position.

Okay, I've been saying this for two weeks now, but seriously, Spain photos tomorrow!!

Friday, October 23

Fun Finds Friday #108

This was made using a fish tank!!

Fall has me wanting some plaid in my closet.

Um, can I please live here?!?!

+ Optical illusions are crazy!
+ Cats and dogs can actually love you ...but we all already knew that, right? ;)
+ I'm not a perfume-wearer, but the idea of making my own intrigues me.
+ Maybe I've already shared this before, but I love everything about it.
+ I'm not familiar with half of the characters anymore, but these Disney doodles are cute!
+ I love love stories.
+ You guys. There's a Walking Dead themed cruise. Would you go?

Happy Friday!!!!

Psst! Not Friday-finds related, but I'm having a BOGO sale on Poshmark! Check it out!

Wednesday, October 21

Project 365, 286-292

I've been struggling to get back into a regular blog schedule since getting back from Spain... I'm not sure why exactly, except that I'm trying to spend my time away from work not on the computer. My head isn't quite back in blog-mode, so last weeks 365 photos are mostly of the cats. Hey, at least they're cute!

286/365: Lloyd is the instigator when it comes to play time. Sylvester is always minding his own business and then Lloyd appears out of nowhere and swats at him, then runs off expecting Sylvester to chase him. Sylvester rarely picks up on this though and ends up sitting there, annoyed at Lloyd for bugging him.

287/365: I felt the need to document a very basic outfit. I haven't worn jeans for years, mostly because I couldn't find any that felt right. Then I discovered Madewell earlier this year and I jumped back on the jeans-wagon. This outfit felt very much like high-school Marine. Jeans, a t-shirt, and converse. And you know what? I'm ok with that. Also, Lloyd photobombed me.

288/365: Shawn was skeptical when I said I was making asian meatball lettuce wraps for dinner, but we both found them incredibly satisfying! Definitely a recipe that I will be making again soon.

289/365: Shadow play. I wish I could have gotten a better photo, but that would have blocked out the light causing the shadow.

290/365: I love packing things up for my Poshmark store! I have a drawer full of notecards, tissue paper, and tags. How do I make this my full time job?! (...I'm only partially kidding.)

291/365: Morning cat love. I hesitated to post this because it's not a flattering photo of me... but it doesn't matter! I don't think anyone is going to be as critical of it as I am. And, I mean, cat cuddles, tea, and morning light.

292/365: I love when I catch these two spending time together!

I promise I'll post Spain photos soon! I already picked out which ones I want to post, so all I have left is to re-size and upload them. So, you know, that takes some time... don't expect to see any this week! Tomorrow is my birthday, and I'm not going to spend it editing photos :)

Friday, October 16

Fun Finds Friday #107

The boys would love this.

I love this dress.

Cats and a peter pan collar??!! Too cute!!!

This is so cool!

+ Mmmm.... Prince Eric looks like Ryan Gosling.
+ Can I get my car pimped?!
+ Apparently trees speak when they are thirsty.
+ Be yourself. Whichever self that may be.
+ There's a very colorful home in New Jersey.
+ Okay now I want cocktails and sugar cookies.
+ This made me chuckle.

Happy Friday!!!!

Wednesday, October 14

Project 365, 272-285

Well hello there! Long time no see. It's a little difficult to get back into the blogging swing of things after taking two weeks off, but I'm going to attempt a post anyway. There is so much to share about my travels! Mostly the 300+ photos I took. I don't even know what to say about any of it, so for now I'll leave you with two weeks worth of project 365 photos. I'm saving the good photos for another post (...or 3)!

272/365: We have an empty bookcase in our office that Lloyd has been thoroughly enjoying.

273/365: This cat loves tennis balls.

274/365: A pretty accurate representation of every single night. (I missed this while I was away!)

275/365: Pizza! In Madrid! That means chorizo instead of pepperoni, you know. Also, let it be known that fresh pizza is a fantastic dinner after spending 7 hours in a plane. And the banana cream pie at this place was awesome.

276/365: SandwiChez. I don't know why the name of this place we drove past cracked me up.

277/365: In Spain, there is no such thing as bad wine or terrible restaurants. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration... but we had a great meal everywhere we went, even at the places that didn't look like much. And you could ask for an unspecified "glass of white wine" everywhere without being disappointed. Also, did you know that Spain is a big gin country? I had no idea! I set my beer tastebuds aside for a week and indulged in some wine and gin for a change.

278/365: I brought home some sea glass from a beach in Barcelona!

279/365: The photo is disappointing, but the brownies were not.

280/365: I'm not sure if this was just after sunrise, or right before a storm... either way, welcome to the view from my parents' house. You can see Madrid in the distance... sorta.

281/365: Donnie Darko much? Ok, maybe not that creepy. Sidenote: my hair looked amazing while I was over there!

282/365: Worried that my parents had forgotten about my baking skills, ;) I made a pear frangipane chocolate tart. And now, I want more.

283/365: The woman my parents are renting from owns a restaurant, which had some doodle-covered placemats. This one reminded me of Shawn and I.

284/365: Oh, just an ancient aqueduct in the middle of a Spanish city. And those clouds!!!

285/365: Flying across timezones is very strange. On this day, I left Madrid at 1pm, spent just over 8 hours in a plane, and arrived in Philadelphia at 3:15pm on the same day. Then I spent two hours in transit from the airport to home. So forgive me if this photo isn't much, but by Sunday night, I was just happy to be home.
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