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So, I made empanadas for my book club meeting this week, but I think if you were into that whole football thing, they'd make the perfect dish to bring to your Super Bowl party. For some reason those Super Bowl parties tend to lean towards a Mexican theme and I'm not sure why... Perhaps because beer alongside chips & salsa just makes so much sense. Well, ladies, empanadas are more impressive than chips and salsa. So, impress your football loving friends this weekend, with a treat that looks a little bit like a football. Because, why not?
For the dough I used this recipe, to avoid some unnecessary repetition. I subbed half the white flour for sprouted wheat flour and used yogurt in place of the cream and they came out quite tasty, so don't be scared to go that route. And the yogurt I used was non-fat... I also tried the recipe later using coconut oil in place of butter and the result was healthier tasting, so if you're trying to keep your non-health obsessed friends happy, just go with the butter.
For the filling:
A bunch of spinach
1 1/2 cups of beech mushrooms
1 can refried black beans
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup cashews
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Add mushrooms, garlic, spinach and cashew to food processor and blend until mostly smooth.
2. Add in the black beans salt and pepper.
3. Stir it up real good.
4. Take the dough out of the freezer (where it's been resting for at least 15 minutes after you made it)
5. Roll out the dough and cut out circles. (You decide how big you want to make those empanadas!)
6. Stuff with veggie-bean mixture & seal with your fingers.
7. Pop in the over for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
8. Take out of the oven when they're golden brown and wait 15 minutes to eat if you want to avoid burning the roof of your mouth. (Because that's the worst. Am I right?)
Now you have fun Super Bowling about, my friends. I'll be standing in the chip bowl, covered in french onion dip, licking my fingers, wondering... where are the cupcakes? That's where you'll find me... Because I've already eaten my way through ALL THE EMPANADAS. That's why YOU must make more! Don't let the world go on empanada-less, especially not on Super Bowl weekend...
We've got some Friday Favorites for you, ladies. And extra special, we've also came prepared for the Friday celebration that IS HAPPENING, and we have a chance for you to win. You have to make your way on down to the bottom of this post, check out the pic of one of our newest arrivals, go find it on the website, and comment below with what it is! First person to guess it right gets a free pair of them on Monday!!! Whhaaaaat!? Yes, that's right. Get excited!!! Get SO excited.
Here's a few of my favorite internet findings from this week:
This downloadable planner print:
This recipe looks healthy, tasty and perfect.
This phone case was made for me; I'm sure of it.
This locket, for those of you who have a boo... Vday is just around the corner. Just sayin...
And these shoes (find them on the website, comment below with the name & win 'em) are so comfortable, I can't believe they're not slippers.
Have the happiest of Fridays my friends. Good luck to you all on winning the shoe above^^. Don't forget to enter by commenting below with the name of the shoe!!
And have fun this weekend. Have so much fun. Have all the fun, eat all the snacks at your Super Bowl parties, catch all the sunsets, laugh all the way (until it hurts) and, pancakes. Weekends and pancakes go together like socks and shoes... or feet and shoes. You decide. But, just eat the pancakes. I'm stuffing mine full of blackberries and then slathering them up in copious amounts of honey. Ok, now I'm drooling all over myself and not in a cute way...
It was the Grammy’s last night!!! Wuhoooo!! We’re music fans over here so we were sure we were tuned in to the show, based in our home of Los Angeles…
Now we know there was a lot of hoopla about the following:
Beyonce and Jay Z opening with a very sexy bump and grind.
Photo Courtesy of Billboard
T Swift dancing all night long….
Photo Courtesy of People Style Watch
Pharrell had a very interesting hat on all night long…
Photo Courtesy of Billboard
Lorde is the cutest thing in the world; we love her songs and are so happy she won some Grammy’s!
Photo Courtesy of Pop Sugar
And for some other notable comments…
1. People got married at the Grammy’s, live during the show (only in LA)
2. Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons performance was AMAZING.
3. Hunter Hayes sang a very touching message to all kids out there.
4. Jay Z is so baller he gave a shout out to Blue Ivy saying “Daddy won a gold sippy cup for you!” A Grammy = Sippy Cup.
What was your favorite performance of the night? Were you entertained?
One thing we overheard that night was “Music is the closest thing we have to a universal language” – that line stuck with me. Whatever genre you’re into, I’m glad we share something in common.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed was one of the best books I read in 2013. I chose it for my December book club book and it was a hit; everyone loved it! The book is a true story of a woman's hike across the Pacific Crest Trail. For those of you who aren't familiar, the PCT is an eleven hundred mile hike that spans from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregan, all the way up to Washington. Strayed had no previous experience hiking, and though her journey proved trying, her story is nothing short of inspiring.
Although her journey proved arduous, it still made me want to go on a backpacking trip! I don't think I could handle the PCT at this point, but I'm looking into some other options for 2-3 day hiking/camping trips I can do locally!
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
'Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.'
'You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.'
'Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.;
'You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule... Real love moves freely in both directions. Don't waste your time on anything else.'
Need another reason to get excited about reading Wild? There's a movie coming out starring Reese Witherspoon! I know, amazing.
My mom got me this book for Christmas years ago and it took me forever to get to. I have no idea why because it was a super quick read and I totally loved it. I found myself turning down lots of pages (always a good sign) and I was captivated by Maya Angelous writing style. She is able to keep her words simple, but still descriptive and inspiring. I'm a nerd and there's nothing I love more than good use of vocabulary paired with simplicity. I had a teacher in high school who made us cut to be and to have verbs out of our writing. At the time, I thought she was evil and insane for forcing us to figure out how to write without these essentials, but then you discover... not soooo essential. There are other ways, better ways, simpler ways. I am not strict about eliminating them completely these days, but I still bear in mind not overloading my sentences with unnecessary words.
Anyways, more about the book... It was more of a self help, inspirational, quick read- perfect for the start of 2014. It will make you feel light, loved, and ready to embrace 2014. I highly recommend it!
Here's a few of my favorite quotes:
“Let's tell the truth to people. When people ask, 'How are you?' have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avaoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don't want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.”
“We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.”
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”
Have you ready any great books lately? Which ones?
I tend to make lofty resolutions and then I get discouraged because I can't stick to anything. This year, I decided to keep it clear & simple with tangible and realistic goals. I'm so excited to tackle 2014; hoping to learn a lot & focus on breathing a little deeper.
My 2014 Resolutions:
Keep reading & get a library card.
One of my resolutions from last year was to read more, and I actually did a pretty great job. I ready probably 10-12 books this year, and next year I hope to keep the momentum building and read even more. I also have been meaning to get a library card, so that's high up on the priority list for 2014.
Learn to can.
I love cooking so much that I constantly have leftovers. I'm pretty good about freezing them & cutting down on waste, but if I could can, then I would be able to free up some freezer space and have ready-to-go meals, soups & sauces. These kinds of things make great gifts as well!
Brew some kombucha.
I. love. kombucha. Don't love that it costs $4 per bottle. So, as I've been getting into cooking, canning & all things crafty, I think kombucha is definitely something I can figure out in the coming year.
I did not camp in 2013. I'm not happy about it. I will not allow 2014 to succumb to this same sad fate. Dear tent, get ready!
Learn to crochet.
I really want to be that crazy 20 something with a bag of yarn at the airport, just making serious progress on a lovely handmade scarf. Is there something wrong with that? I hope not, because Mr. 2014, it's going to happen.
Definitely journal. Maybe a book?
Make a photo album.
I've been doing a great job at using my camera and taking more pictures this year, but I hate that the only real gallery of edited photos lives on my Instagram. I would love to make a real live scrapbook/photo album this year.
I did get back into painting in 2013, but I only finished one piece. I want to change that in 2014. I have a piece I just started, and one in mind for my BFFs wedding gift, so I'm ready to beat the 2013 tally.
Exercise 3-5 times a week.
I'm certainly going to try. Some weeks it won't happen, but I'm prepared to forgive myself. Also, hikes and bike rides count, so there's that.
What are your 2013 resolutions?! Comment below!
Not going to lie, I'm thrilled 2014 is upon us; 2013's been a bit of a doozy. Rather than dwell on the muck, let's recap the staggering moments, the unwonted and the bliss that carried me through.
Here's what I learned:
Some humans are wonderful.
My biggest struggle this year, losing my pup, was also my greatest blessing. The outpouring of community support, complete strangers volunteering to help, astounded me. Honestly, the experience restored my faith in humanity. Yes, some people are all around repugnant, but others, will dazzle, surprise & humble you with their kindness. Seek out the givers, the lovers, the doers; they're out there.
Waves make everything better. And also, bacon.
Every time I want to cry, pout or scream, I should head directly to the beach. Night or day. Rain or shine. The sand, the sounds, the air... always heals. Always. And for those nights where I let the stubborn win and the bourbon heal, well that's where bacon comes in. Bacon saves Saturdays. There is a scientific reason for this phenomenon. Drinking causes a depletion of sodium, and what's more heavenly and salty than bacon? There isn't such a thing.
Buying in bulk is an art form.
Go big or go home when it comes to major savings on whisky; it doesn't go bad. Also, everything is cheaper on Amazon. And when you buy in bulk, that means super cheap. And when you Subscribe & Save? SUPER. DUPER. CHEAP. I've done price comparisons to all the local grocers, targets, etc. I now buy so many household items via Amazon, that my post lady totally called me out. She literally remarked, "Damnnn gurl, watchu doing? Driving that orange car and all these boxes. You crack me up." Well, and here I was thinking I was only entertaining myself on this venture. Wrong.
Friends are forever.
I feel so lucky to have a crew of amazing, kind, stirring friends, from all different chapters, living so close. It shouldn't even be legal, that's how incredible. Living nearly 3,000 miles away from home, it makes a world of difference in my life. Even though I love the hermit life, my friends keep me grounded, unstinting, and thankful.
Headstands? Super fun.
I started practicing my headstands when I moved into my own apartment and I recommend it to everyone. Not only is it good for your health, but it's good for your soul. Makes me feel like a kid. I feel like an old fart too frequently, so I revel in my headstand fun. You should give it a try, but have someone experienced (yoga instructor, perhaps?) show you how first. Neck injuries are no fun.
I'm a killer soup chef.
I started getting really into cooking now that I have my own apartment. And I'm quite good at it. AND I love it! Win, win, win. My friends agree. Especially when I feed them soup, pumpkin lasagna, corn muffins... and whatever else I've been inspired to whip up and share. Sharing is fun. Giving feels good. And food? Nothing better. Also, I've mastered the art of freezing/storing left overs so I'm seriously cutting down on eating out and my bank account is grateful.
Yes, so many fish. Learn to laugh with/at them all.
For an introvert with disdain for driving on week nights, I'm proud of myself for trying out online dating. Sure, I've cycled through a slew of men and still single, but I learned a lot. I got out of my house, shared laughs, trusted in strangers, went sailing, went hiking, even paddle boarding, lived in the moment, felt inspired, also crazy, often disappointed, but in the end always glad I took a risk, because no one trumps my dating tales at ladies night. The most valuable thing I learned from it all is that I am enough. Just me, alone or with company, I can take care of myself, love myself and pick myself back up no matter how many times I get let down. One day, that special one will come along... just when I least expect it, right? (My mom thinks so.)
Smiles make more smiles.
Get out of your head. Take a deep breath. Smile at every person you see and say hi to some of them. This practice makes all the difference in my day. And when I get smiles back, I know I'm helping someone else feel better too. And that feels fantastic. Smile, smile, smiles.
Books will always shoot you back a text.
One resolution for 2013 that I really stuck to was upping my reading game. I've been averaging about a book a month this year, which I consider a major improvement from the past couple years prior. Best part is, it hasn't been so challenging, because I love reading. The more I read, the more I want to read. It's a funny thing. I even joined a book club, so I look forward to continuing this rapid book consumption in 2014.
Spiders aren't so bad, and dancing alone in your underwear? Underrated.
When I'm feeling down, I remind myself that I live alone, in a nice apartment, in Los Angeles, only 3 miles away from the beach. Yes, I have some creepy crawlers lurking in my corners that I have to handle all on my lonesome, but I can also forget about that and strip down, blast some tunes and dance like no one's watching. Because no one is. Nothing trumps that kind of freedom.
What are your favorite moments from 2013? Comment below!
If I'm going to be honest, cookies just might be my favorite thing about the holidays. Sure, family is great, presents are fun, but ginger snaps have my heart. My mom's ginger snaps are so dangerously good, and this year I found way to make them even better. I blew my own mind. Peanut butter chips. Why not? I'll admit, I tested two little nuggets before I attacked the batter wtih the peanut buttery goodness, but I mean, seriously. Why I shrugged an ounce of doubt is really quite puzzling.
I ate half a dozen cookies fresh out of the oven that night. And I didn't even feel bad about it. I've just accepted I'm going to exist in constant sugar coma until 2014. Denying myself a single cookie this holiday season is simply not on this girl's agenda. And I'm not saying no to pie. I'm not saying no to cheese. So clearly, getting into a consistent work out regime come the new year is making it on to the list of resolutions, but for the rest of this glorious month of December, I'm participating in all festivities, con cookies. Who's with me?
Wow- I really sidetracked on an indignant cookie monster rant there, my apologies. Onto the recipe, which I'm proud to share, my mom texted to me from her ipad. She's so hip, it's really quite impressive. (This recipe looks like it could have been written by Betty Crocker herself, am I right?)
I had to share this old school version, but I understand it's not so easy to follow, so I took the liberty of transposing for you.
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves (i omit) *that's my mom, not i. i added those cloves right on in & i didn't regret it.
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 oz. (1/2 stix) butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup molasses
granulated sugar to roll cookies in
walnuts & pecans, halved sliced, or coarsly chopped (optional) i did these sans nuts
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and black pepper, set aside.
In large bowl of electric mixer cream the butter. (I did not have an electric mixer, so I did all of this by hand. I was too tired to make a second batch, but I survived and the cookies did not suffer.)
Add brown sugar and beat well.
Add egg and molasses and beat a few more minutes until light in color.
On low speed gradually add sifted dry ingredients, scraping bowl with rubber spatula and beating until incorporated.
Refridgerate dough briefly until it can be handled. 10-15 min may be enough. (and in my case it certainly was)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut tinfoil to fit cookie sheets.
Spread granulated sugar on large piece of wax paper.
Use one round tablespoon of dough for each cookie.
Roll buttered hands, then in sugar, and place 2 1/2 to 3 inches apart on cookie sheets.
Bake almost 13 minutes, reversing cookie sheets if necessary to insure even browning.
Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Makes 24 large cookies. (Ok, maybe I had more than a half dozen cookies.)
And there you have it.
The holidays are my favorite time of year, but it can also be expensive if you're living on a tight budget. With parties, gifts to buy, houses to decorate... etc. The expenses can be a bit overwhelming. I've been getting really into recycling, repurposing and making as much as I can by hand this year, so I am here to share a few ideas on where you can make some adjustments and save some of those precious dollars. :)
1. Make your own wrapping paper.
With Pinterest, there are a plethora of DIY gift wrapping ideas. I usually save any gift bags I get throughout the year and for any gifts that fit better in a box- I make my own wrapping paper. This year, I have been saving all of the butcher paper that comes as packing material in my Amazon Subscribe & Save deliveries. (Yes, I'm totally obsessed with Amazon) It's a little bit crumpled, but I figure this will add to the 'rustic' look. I plan on tying these up with some red twine and a sprig of rosemary. I expect they will smell and look quite lovely.
2. Recycle those boxes into a Christmas tree.
If you are going home for the holidays or can't afford a tree, there are plenty of ideas to get the feeling without dishing out big bucks for a tree that's really going to create a lot of mess for a short amount of time. I love this idea for a cardboard Christmas tree! I've been saving my boxes (I just break them down and store them behind the couch with the spiders) and I plan to just paint the tree when I'm finished! They kept the cardboard look, but I personally am tied to the whole green tree thing...
3. Learn oragami for some DIY ornaments.
My family is coming to Palm Springs to celelbrate Christmas this year, so my Mom asked me to come up with some ideas on how to make our rental house look a bit festive so we didn't feel totally disconnected from the spirit of Christmas while lounging by the pool. I've always wanted to learn to make oragami, so I got this book from amazon that came with paper & holiday inspired oragami how-tos. We're going to learn to make these as a family, and the nerd in me is really excited about it.
4. Gift your friends something handmade.
No one wants to be the only friend not participating in the gifting rituals of Christmas time, but there are ways of giving without breaking the bank. This year, I got a canning kit (Yes, from Amazon) and I am planning on making a bunch of caramel sauce & canning it with some red bows on top. This way I will fulfill my dreams of learning to can AND all my friends and family will have a little something sweet to ring in 2014 and I'll still be able to pay my rent come January.
5. Eat in when possible and never turn down leftovers.
There are going to be some holiday celelbrations where you end up going out and spending money on some food and drinks. Expect that- and try to cut out eating out when you're alone. Pack your lunches. Stay home, make soup, drink tea and your bank account will bless you with a much larger available balance. Another sneaky little tip: If you attend a holiday party, stick around and help the host clean up! When you're putting away the scraps and the fridge is full... don't say no when they insist you help eat the leftovers. ;)
all images via Pinterest.
Happy November! It's me, Ilene (aka illy) of Much Love, illy back with another post for you good people! Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month? Lots of writers make it a goal to write their novels from start to finish. There is even a website that brings all of these writers together. I have some friends that have taken part with it and have said nothing but good things about it - because the challenge makes you just write your heart out without editing or criticism. Just write! As a writer myself and a lover of books of all kinds, I thought it'd be fun to talk about some of my favorite writers (from my childhood and recently) and the novels that they wrote:
John Green and The Fault in Our Stars. A good writer understand people - how they think, how they feel. That is John Green. I read this book in two days, feeling every bit of raw emotion that it exuded. And if you pick this one up, be sure to grab a box of Kleenex, too. You're going to need it.