Thursday, December 31, 2015

Friday Favorites {Happy New Year}

Happy New Year!! I'm writing this post NYE morning because it's fairly certain champagne is going to get the best of me and I will not be able to do it Friday morning. I hope everyone enjoyed their NYE whether you are going to a big party or staying in with family. I'm heading out after work to enjoy a house party with my closest friends! Look for a full NYE update on Monday :)

I got brave on Wednesday and decided instead of my normal highlights and root touch up to experiment with a bayalage color. I'm not adventurous with my color at all so this was big for me. Basically, bayalage is a coloring technique that is a less drastic version of ombre and uses a painting technique instead of foils. I'm happy with how it turned out and think it will be good to be a little darker for the Winter. 

Please excuse my selfie. 

I'm very excited for Mrs. Modern Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge! I read a good amount in 2015 (my list here) and excited to carry on in 2016 with a fun structure. Will you join me? 

My 21 Day Fix journey has turned more into a 40 day journey due to the holidays. But I'm ok with that because it's all about a lifestyle right? I recently made these Fix Approved meals and they did not disappoint! 

I made a version of this pasta bake using what I had on hand and it is so good! I shared it with my Beachbody challenge group and it was a hit! 

This chili was so hearty and flavorful. I ate on it for DAYS.

I CANNOT get enough of the newest Netflix craze in Making a Murderer. I am through episode 5 and have to peel myself away at night to go to bed. It's everything you love about Serial but in a documentary series form. It's so well made and the real life plot twists keep your jaw dropping. Are you all watching?? Looking for more true crime? Check out my podcast list

Best wishes for a New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pesto Pinwheels + Favorite Recipes of 2015

I never thought I would say this but I am so sick of holiday food. Yes, I said it. Over the past few weeks I've stuffed my face with chocolate covered pretzels, likely dozens of cheese balls, and overdosed on carbs until I'm sick. I never thought I'd be excited for a regular schedule of eating and healthy foods but I am. However, we still have one last bash left of this year---New Years.  Luckily, I'm perfectly content with filling up on champagne and nibbling on some light appetizers.

These pinwheels are the perfect bite---creamy with a spicy punch of pesto flavor!  These are also great for lunch, happy hour, or a snack. 

Pesto Pinwheels
Recipes makes around 3 tortillas wraps
3 flour tortillas ( I used the burrito size)
1 softened block of cream cheese
1 cup of greek yogurt
2 tablespoons pesto
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
dash of pepper

I can't lie. This recipe was inspired partly because I was dying to play with my new toy I got for Christmas. I love the champagne color of this mixer ! Combine all the ingredients into the mixer until well combined and creamy.

Spread the mixture evenly onto the tortillas. I had plain on hand but I think the spinach green ones would be so pretty! Roll them up tightly and wrap in plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for at least an hour. Chilling makes it much easier to cut into uniform pieces.

This last photo is not very good mostly because there are 3 light bulbs out in my kitchen...oops. I added some toothpicks and cherry tomatoes to add some color and make them mobile :) 

One of the reasons I started this blog was to try out and share recipes. I love to cook and it's become very therapeutic for me after a long day. In 2016 you can expect to see lots more recipes and I'm aiming for one a week! Here are some of my favorites I've posted so far this year...

Guilt(less) Spinach Dip with Sundried Tomato Pesto

What recipes would you like to see on the blog in 2016?

Monday, December 28, 2015

New Years Looks

I can't exactly say I'm mad that Christmas is over. I enjoyed it of course but I'm exhausted from it and ready to move on. Insert New Years. NYE is one of my favorite nights of the year. There is nothing better than reminiscing on the year with great friends and toasting to new memories!

Whether you're going to a fancy party or watching the ball drop on your couch you need a stellar outfit! This is the one day of the year where you can bust out all the glitter and sequins you want with no judgement.

I tried to put together looks featuring staple items that everyone has in their closets like LBDs, leggings, and sparkle statement pieces.


Sequin top

Sequin dress

What are you wearing this NYE?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Weekend Highlights {Weekend Before Christmas}

Happy Monday! Very rarely do I look forward to a Monday but this one is obviously different. We're one step closer to a short week AND Christmas!

I kicked off my weekend with a friend's Christmas party Friday night.  She was truly an amazing hostess. Everything from the delicious food, drink, and decor was perfect. She left no detail untouched. 

My favorite part was the moscow mule bar setup she put together. I will definitely be stealing her idea for my own parties in the future. I NEED copper mugs

After a long Friday night of driving and partying a brunch was a necessity. Luckily, my friend Sam and I were able to go to our favorite spot (Wild Eggs for KY peeps). There is nothing better than skillet potatoes and Kalamity Katie's Benedict. So good!
It was also good fuel for the gift wrapping party that commenced the rest of the day. It was the perfect December Saturday spent with my friends, wrapping gifts, chatting, and watching all the dogs play.

I finally got to try out the Starbucks Holiday Flat White drink that everyone has been raving about on Instagram and it may be my new favorite. Forget the peppermint mocha, gingerbread, and all the other frill...this spiced drink is delicious!

I rounded out my Sunday by getting a jump start on baking for our Christmas festivities with my mom. She did most of the work while I stuffed my face with peanut butter balls but we managed to crank out dozens of Christmas Rock cookies. They are from an old traditional family recipe and are full of nuts and dried fruit. 

I hope everyone has a great week and takes some time from the hustle and bustle to take a breath and enjoy this fun time of year! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2015

I've been a big reader my entire life. I remember getting in trouble as a kid because I would sneak and stay up late reading. Well, I never got in too much trouble because I think secretly my mom relished in the fact that I loved to read. Every year I tell myself that I will read more. But if I'm realistic with myself I read in spurts. I go through periods where all I want to do is read and then I get in a rut and take a break. I'm fine with this natural flow of a pattern I've developed.

I'm not positive how many books I've read this year. But since getting Goodreads (friend me!) several months I've counted around 19 books. Some were captivating, some were just meh, and there were a few I struggled to finish. But there were some definite winners that stood out this year! 

The Forgotten Garden: I bought this book on a whim when I saw it went on sale through Kindle Deals. (FYI-Everyday Mrs. Modern Darcy posts the daily deals. At this point I rarely buy a book that isn't on it.) I didn't know anything about the author or the book so I didn't have high expectations but for $1.99 I was willing to risk it. So glad I did! This book is the perfect mix of historical fiction, family drama, and mystery. I'm definitely adding another Kate Morton Book to my 2016 reading list.

What Alice Forgot: This book introduced me to my new favorite author---Liane Moriarty. Since, I've read 4 other of her books and each one is fantastic. I love Moriarty's writing because it has everything I want in a book---light, yet thought provoking, modern, and funny.

The Shell Seekers: I randomly picked up this book one day along with my other haul items from Half Priced Books. It sat on my nightstand for a few months before I thought anything else about it. Then I began seeing it pop up on Summer Reading lists and I realized that it's a beach reading classic. I then patted myself on the back for having great taste without even knowing it and took it along with me on my Labor Day beach trip. The hype was correct. It's the perfect beach read. I described it to someone as truly beautiful and I think that's accurate. It's the type of book that you don't want to end but even when it does it's satisfying in every way.

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are: If you've been reading this blog long you're probably tired of hearing me talk about this book. I can't help it. I probably open it up and reread a chapter at least once a week. The risotto, omelette, and vinaigrette recipes are now staples in my cooking routine. You can read more about my love affair with this book here and here.

Yes Please: This book is everything you'd expect from Amy Poehler and more. It's hysterical, relatable, and insightful. She writes about the struggle of having a career, being a celebrity, and parenting. You kind of feel like you're friends with Amy by the end of the book. I can't watch anything she's in now without thinking about her book and the respect I have for her.

What were your favorite books of 2015?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Weekend Highlights

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I will admit it was hard to feel in the Christmas spirit when it was 65 degrees---but I'm not complaining.  The dogs and I loved getting out of the house for dog park trips and long walks!

Let me introduce you to my new foster baby---Misty. She is a special girl for sure. I pulled her out of a local shelter after her owners tired of breeding her. I hate people. Luckily, her good looks have already secured her a new home in Indiana and she'll be heading up north after the holidays! In the meantime we are enjoying every second with her. It's nice to have another lady in the house. 

Wrangling 3 leashes is not easy. But they loved roaming the neighborhood!

On Saturday I went downtown to look around some of the local shops. A new and exciting shop just opened called Rustic Roots and it's so cool! It focuses on and sells only products made in KY. They will also be offering pottery and other artisan classes. Finally, Appalachia is becoming cool! 

This shirt describes me perfectly.

I finally got around to trying a recipe from Thug Kitchen. This cookbook is full of yummy vegan recipes that are so gorgeous that you won't even miss the meat. I tried out the Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower with Peanut dipping sauce and it did not disappoint. It felt very indulgent but without the guilt!

Cheers to a fantastic week! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Fun

It's hard to believe that we have another week in December behind our belts and even closer to Christmas. It's getting progressively more difficult to focus on work because all I want to do is put on my pajamas, watch Christmas movies, bake, and wrap presents. Such a struggle.

Although yesterday was a bit like Christmas morning because the long awaited new season of Serial dropped yesterday! You all know how much I loved the first Serial and true crime podcasts. This one sounds promising to be just as good as the first! I won't give away too much but it tells the story of Bowe Bergdal, an Army Sargent that was held by the Taliban for over 5 years. However, after his release the story got more complicated because it seems he voluntarily walked off his post. The first episode reminded me a lot of Homeland. I'm excited to listen to this season and spark a discussion here on the blog! 

I definitely got full into the Christmas spirit this week and decorated and began wrapping up some presents. I spent way too much time on Pinterest trying to pick a "theme" for my wrapping and came up with a brown paper and gold scheme. I love how rustic and clean the paper looks and how simple gold touches makes it all pop.

How cute are these Santa babies!

I love cookbooks. I love looking at them, touching them, and occasionally cooking from them. A friend asked me yesterday for a cookbook suggestion for her mom for Christmas. I figured I'd share with you all too!

What's your favorite cookbook?

I hope you all have a great and festive weekend!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

5 Minute DIY Gift: Cranberry Infused Vodka

I've been known to do DIY Christmas gifts. By "do"---I really mean having big plans and ideas for crafty projects, getting in over my head, waiting until the last minute, and ending up with something that warrants being coined a Pinterest fail. One year during college I took up knitting the beginning of December and all my family members opened up 3/4 length scarfs with unfinished ends. However, it was a wonderful distraction from studying for finals. I have attempted DIY sugar scrubs, stayed up all night baking cookies the night before for coworkers, and I can't even imagine some of the other disasters I cooked up as a child.

This year will be different. There is one DIY gift that is fail proof and that everyone on my list will love. Alcohol, folks. Delicious cranberry infused alcohol perfect for festive cocktails. I have experimented before with summer fruits but this cranberry flavor is even better and couldn't be easier.

Cranberry Infused Vodka
Mason jar (or other container that is air tight)
1 cup of fresh cranberries
1/4 cup of sugar
Vodka of your choice (filled to top of jar)

It's a simple as filling a mason jar or other air right container with a cup of fresh cranberries. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup of sugar and fill the jar to the top with the vodka of your choice. I will make a slight disclaimer here. Normally, I am a huge advocate of drinking the highest quality alcohol as you can afford. You get to a certain age where the quality truly matters and nobody wants a morning after Everclear hangover. But with this recipe I don't recommend springing for the fancy stuff.  A moderate level vodka will do just fine and the cranberry flavor is so yummy your friends/family will never know you cheaped out. 

Store the jar in a dark place (such as a cabinet or cupboard) and shake every few days. Depending upon your amount of time and desired level of strength the vodka can infuse for 1 week to 3 weeks. Once infused you must pour the contents through a strainer and separate from the cranberries. Drink up and create any cocktail your heart desires! 

Have you had a DIY gift fail?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Gift Guide for the Kentucky Lover

I love reading gift guide posts. I come across so many products and ideas that I would have never known about otherwise. I wanted to do a unique gift guide and thought a Kentucky centric guide would be perfect.  Lots of small businesses are featured so be sure to check them out!  Better yet---some of these products can be personalized for any state you like!

Gift Guide for the Kentucky Lover. Great gifts that are focused on Kentucky

What other gift guides would you be interested in seeing?

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