Oct 30, 2013

Fall = Bright Tights! {Amy}

I love fall for the simple fact of tights. Especially bright ones. I don't have a ton of tights myself.
See, only 7 (and I'll get around to why I include that black pair in a minute).
But I love tights. And living in the middle of a desert, there's no chance you'll catch me wearing hose in the summer, much less tights. So, when the temperature drops - which it blessedly has - I find myself jumping for joy over the prospect of tights.

I've got a pinterest board with some ideas, but I'm definitely going to need to build up my other items of clothing before I have a ton of stuff to flounce about in with my tights.
 And this, is why the one pair of black tights is included. Also - how very Halloween appropriate!

Oct 29, 2013

Decorating for Halloween {Amy}

The last several years, I haven't done much in the way of decorating for Halloween. I think it would be easy to blame that on the fact that we've been in small apartments and not had any reason to go all out. This year wasn't really much different though. We weren't having anyone over for festivities, and it wasn't as though we'd have to worry about trick-or-treaters. But I did manage to do a small display in our front hallway.
Perhaps the funniest thing about this display is that most of the items in it... are out in the house year round. The skull candles are strageically placed about the living room - along with several others that did not get moved. The Plastic eyeballs are actually a part of a character inspiration for one of my novels. And the zombie cookie jar goes next to our other (A black skull - who'd have thought!) on the kitchen cabinets.

The bloody  handprints on the mirror do get put away. They're a bit too sticky to leave out year round.

Oct 28, 2013

October Snapshot {Amy}

This month has been a lot of fun... if entirely hectic for me.  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, even though I don't do much for it anymore. I expect I'll love it anew when I have kids to dress up and tout about. But for now, it's still a love of mine for the sheer lunacy of its ever-evolving weirdness.
We're on a quest to find the perfect at-home curry recipe. And of course, I'm also still testing out any and all types of teas. Lu got her hair cut and seems much happier. Overall, the month has been a nice one... hopefully the rest of the year goes as swimmingly!

Oct 25, 2013

Green Chile Cheesecake {Amy}


Okay, I know some of you might have seen the title and immediately thought "EEEEW!" I have gotten that reaction a few times in person. Truth be told,  I myself was not 100% on board with it from the get-go, but Earl really wanted me to make it, and I'm a sucker for the guy. So he brought me a burlap sack of Hatch Chiles. Our friends who own a restaurant mercifully roasted them for us so the apartment didn't' smell spicy for the next six months. And so, I made the long promised cheesecake. It actually turned out SO much better than I expected.


Green Chile Cheesecake

- 1 1/4 Cup Nilla Wafers, pulsed through a food processor
- 1/4 Cup melted Butter
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 3 (8oz) Packages Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 (14oz) Can Condensed Milk
- 3 Eggs
- 5-7 Green Chiles, pureed or minced (or both)
- Spring form Pan, Parchment Paper, & Cooking Spray

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

I always prep my spring form by lining the bottom with parchment paper (Depending on your pan, you might also want to use cooking spray for easy removal). Mix your Nilla crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a bowl until crumbs are moist enough to press into the bottom of your spring form pan in an even layer.

Decide what you want to do with your chiles, I like a mixture of both. Beat cream cheese until smooth, add condensed milk slowly, when incorporated, scrape down sides, then add eggs one at a time. Add in green chile and mix only until chiles are mixed throughout.

Pour your batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 40 minutes.

 Remove from oven, let cool on trivet, cover with plastic wrap, chill refridgerator until set.

Remove from Spring Form pan, serve and enjoy!

Oct 22, 2013

Dealing With The Kitchen Shelves {Amy}

One part of the apartment that has always been a bit of an annoyance is the shelving system in our kitchen. So, I decided to make it work for me, and I thought I'd share the de-cluttering with you.
 
Before: 
 
Initially when we moved in, I grouped things by color, which was fun, but didn't actually last long. So, looking at the shelving system as they were, let's talk about the problems.
  • The top two shelves weren't being used to their fullest potential. They were being cluttered with items that weren't used every day, or were purely decorative. What I want to get out of them: Storage for semi-used kitchen serving-ware/mixing bowls.
  • The "Jars and Such" shelf was a bit of a mess.  I don't know if you can tell, but there's a bag of flour hanging out at the other end and there's some random Tupperware items that found their way onto the shelf and never managed to leave.What I want to get out of it: An organized and clean looking method of storing bulk items.
  • Below that, there's another shelf of random items - mostly tea related things that do not get as much use as I would like. What I want to get out of it: Dry food Storage to clear up space in kitchen cabinets.
  • The bottom shelf has a basket with all of our spices, and then a bunch of random serve-ware (and my depleted lemon juice stock) It looks like a mish-mash, and I don't enjoy that. What I want to get out of it: Same as above. Dry food Storage.
  • On the floor are baskets with out cooking oils/vinegars, noodles, canned goods, and baking supplies. I just don't like keeping this stuff on the floor. What I want to get out of it: Earl wants to use it to store our water bottles... and I'm okay with that.

 After: 

In the end, I think it worked perfectly for my purposes. I just had to get two more baskets, and straighten things out/rearrange. If you're wondering where all my tea stuff went, check over here.

Oct 21, 2013

Starting a Path to a More Organized Life {Amy}

I am a chronic list maker. In fact, this post has a list of lists.... that's just the sort of person I am. At my left, I have a list of things to-do for the day, at my right I have a list of menu plans, and beneath that, I have a few notes on wedding items - in list format, of course.

But lists don't make you organized.

So! Over the next few months, I'm on a journey of organization. I've got to tackle things like:

My Upcoming Wedding (Eep!)
The Cleaning Schedule (I need to dust more!)
Finances (Did I mention I'm getting married...)
Pictures (I don't even want to think about the mess on my hard drive right now)
Writing (Both on the blog front and my novels)
Food (So I stop getting into the habit of making the same stuff all the time for dinners)
Work out schedule (Fell off that wagon and need to get right back on)
and of course, Christmas ( I have to coordinate gifts over 3 states!)


So, as of right now, I've got some notebooks from target to start with the organizing...


... aren't they pretty?

And I've got a few blog resources I'm going to be using.

Wedding: This illustration by Alicia's Infinity | Checklist Infographic from DIY Bride (modified)
Cleaning: Master List from Honey We're Home | This Guide for 8 Weeks to a less cluttered life | File Storage from Small Notebook |And Our Little Apartment for just about everything
Finances: A modified version of this printable from Frugal Fanatic | Mint.com
Pictures: Lil Blue Boo's Post from last year | This A Thousand Words post | Shutterfly | Blurb
Writing: Blog Brainstorming | Babble's 18 writing tips (even though I'm not a mommy blogger) | Staying organized while writing your novel | Excel - as always
Food: More Recipes from Practical Paleo | the amazing food from Emma at A Beautiful Mess
Workouts: Tone It Up (and their monthly calendar) | Blonde Ponytail's Home-Workouts
Christmas: .... I don't actually have a handle on this one yet!

Anyone else have any sites that could help me out?

Oct 16, 2013

Animal Archives: Lu Got a Haircut {Amy}

Lucy  pretty much has two looks. When her hair gets long, and she gets fluffy, she turns into a pseudo ewok.
 About the time her ears start to take on the Jackie O. flip, I know she's really got to get in to the groomers. Though she is super adorable when she looks all frumpy.
 So she goes in to the groomers - she's not a big fan of the actual process, but she's a good girl and doesn't put up a fuss. And she comes out looking like Falcor.
 She's also SUPER happy to be home, and who could blame her?
 My Little snugglebutt.

Oct 15, 2013

Tea Storage & Display {Amy}

Anyone who knows me, knows I love tea. I drink it every day, even in the dead heat of summer. And along with my love of tea comes a love for teacups. Which is why I have a slowly building teacup collection.
Every time we move, the teacups have to find a new home. The previous two times, they ended up on top of the kitchen cabinets. It’s a place that is good for viewing… but inconvenient for use, and they get AWFULLY dusty up there.


This time around, I have a set of shelves just beyond the kitchen. and I decided they were perfect for storing my ever fluctuating supply of tea. The bottom three shelves are for our abundance of board games and puzzles at the moment.
Are you wondering what that grey box is?


It's kind of like an electrical tackle box, but it's PERFECT for keeping tea bags corralled! (And, if the house catches on fire, I could grab it and run! {Kidding - mostly} It has decluttered the shelf amazingly. It holds the equivalent of aproximately 17 boxes of tea! along with some bigger cubbies to hold my loose leaf Cranberry Sweets Cranberry Hibiscus, my loose leaf Orange Pekoe, some "zinger" samples, and my make-your-own tea bags.

I'll probably paint it soon. So that it doesn't look like a big grey brick on the shelf... or maybe I wont. I haven't quite decided yet!

I have my eye on a few teacups I saw recently at the Brass Armadillo, so I might have to find room on my shelves for a couple more…

Oct 14, 2013

Mapping our Travels {Amy}



Last week, I talked about our road trip up to Oregon. Earl and I take A Lot of road trips. 

We’re approaching the five year mark, and so far we’ve:
  • Taken a Colorado Road Trip (AZ-NM-CO-UT-AZ). It was the trip we got stuck in a blizzard and woke up to a foot and a half of snow on my car (IN MARCH!)
  • Driven to Oregon via the California Coast
  • Meandered our way to San Diego via backroads (and got stopped by border patrol twice – once, they set the dogs to sniffing)
  • Made our way up to Oregon through the western half of Nevada, hitting Reno and Tahoe
  • We took a long route through Eastern Nevada in August and went to Portland for Allison’s wedding.
  • We’ve taken every possible route to Vegas, and the Laughlin/Lake Havasu Loop
  • And of course we’ve done a lot of in-state one day road trips. Days where we take off and don’t get home for 13 hours. (Unfortunately these don’t always start particularly early!

But no matter where we go, we always take our National Geographic Road Atlas and a highlighter, and we always mark off the roads we travel. 
 


It’s been a sort of undertaking, and we’ve definitely started to look for new and different ways to go. It’ helped us see a TON of the state we live in, and I think that’s great!

Oct 11, 2013

Fall Cooking {Amy}

It never fails. Fall rolls around, with it's crisp mornings after the long and brutal summer, and all I want to do is cook and bake! So that's usually what happens on the weekends!

I light my kitchen Candle, Roll up my sleeves, and get right to it.

As soon as the temperature drops there's a heavy stockpot on my stove top and I'm brewing up spice tea.  It's amazing and might possibly be a miracle drink. I found myself getting tonsillitis every January up until I finally found this recipe again (it's a family favorite) and since then, not a trace of the dreadful condition all winter!

Earl and I are testing out a variety of spice blends, We've yet to have any definitive thoughts, but I'll definitely report back when we know what we like best!

One of my favorite breakfast options is granola. I make a variation of this one.  I love it. Keep it in a big zip-lock in the cupboard next to the all bran. And I'm almost more excited when it runs out! Because then my home gets to smell like some delicious spices and cooking cranberries!

I'm a huge fan of sugar cookie sandwiches. This last weekend's fare was pretty straight forward, I used orange royal icing as my center in honor of Halloween (the plate is also in honor of Halloween).

And then we have the bran muffins. I LOVE bran muffins. I don't remember when I first had them, but I know that I've been a HUGE fan ever since! Since I haven't made them in a while (when it's 120 out, you use the oven as little as possible!) I went with the plain recipe, but Apple cinnamon and strawberry versions are also fantastic. (Also, please note: I suddenly ran out of my  normal muffin liners, and thus, the snowflakes)


Oct 10, 2013

Paper Flowers {Amy}

Over the course of the next six months, I'll be making TONS of paper flowers. This is because I've decided to do that for my wedding in lieu of real flowers. (And that's partially because I might be crazy, but mostly because I think cut flowers are tragically sad.)

If you go to pinterest and start looking for paper flowers. There are a lot of really awesome options.



This is the first one I tried were done  with the help of this video from Craft Gawker, and they turned out like this.



I printed out a template on card stock to trace from so I could make the flowers from a bunch of awesome scrap book paper, and I do think I'll need to print out another one, scaling down to make some smaller  ones, but I really like this particular variety - so long as we ignore my serious hatred of hot glue.

Oct 9, 2013

Pinspiration {Amy}

Sometimes, I think Pinterest might have been the greatest invention of the decade. At least from a practical home-use stand point.

Allie and I have a pinterest board for this blog. We use it to pin the content, collect inspirations, and we also have a board of things we love. Here's a peek at them. Come follow us!

The General Blog board:

The Gastronomical board:


My Love List board:


Oct 7, 2013

The August Trip {Amy} (Picture Heavy)

In August Earl and I packed up the car and headed to the Northwest. In all, we hit Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, and - of course - Arizona.
The night we left there was a terrific thunderstorm on the way to Vegas.

When we map out our route, we always look for roads we haven't driven before. Because we couldn't dilly dally, we had to stick to actual highways. This is why we ended up taking a rather directly northern trajectory for the first part of our trip.

 
Nevada is actually a lot prettier than I expected. I'm not sure why I thought that, since I live in Arizona, a state known mostly for the desert sand, but is actually incredibly ecologically diverse.
Idaho was quick, and smokey.
 
There was a fire a ways away, but it was big enough the plume was huge! It made the sunset pretty gorgeous. :/

Oregon was the bulk of the trip, as usual, I love my home state. This is the first time we didn't make our way to the coast, we spent the majority of the time in Portland, visiting friends and  some family, doing a smidge of the touristy stuff...







There may have also been a wedding in there too :)
But Allison and I will talk about that later.

At the end of the long drive home, I was just happy to see this furry face waiting for me.

Oct 4, 2013

Buttery Andouille Pasta {Amy}


Sometimes, I just need some simple but delicious pasta to get me through the day. When that happens, I usually reach for this tried and true recipe.
Buttery Andouille Pasta (Serves 4):
16oz Pasta (I used Rotini, you can use whatever you like)
2 links of Andouille Sausage
1 stick of Butter
1/4cup Parmesan Cheese (grated finely)
3 cloves of Garlic
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Boil your pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. 
In a separate pot, boil your sausages. After boiling the andouille sausage - I usually do this the night before, if I can remember - Slice them into thin rounds.(I run the links through my slicer blade on my food processor.) Add them to a pan with olive oil, and saute until you get a nice crispness on the outside. Set aside (You can mix this together with the pasta if you want just to get a jump on things)
In a small pot, melt your butter. Add Parmesan, use a micro-plane to grate your garlic in, and add salt and pepper to taste. 
When your sauce is fully melted, combine the pasta, sausage and butter mixture, and stir until the pasta and sausage are coated. You can sprinkle a little Parmesan on top if you want. I'm always a fan of more cheese!

This is seriously one of my favorite meals as we start to head into fall, before the true fall foods inundate my life.

Oct 3, 2013

Supplies {Amy}

I've been doing a lot of thinking about art supplies and storage lately. That's mostly because I've got a pile of supplies at my left elbow as I type this.
Art Supplies are one of my life long loves. When the paints were broken out in preschool I was all over it, even if my creations were some of the worst of the squiggles and lines.
I'm going to spend the next few months finding better ways to store my supplies (meaning n ot in this pile) and when I have some awesome stuff, I'll definitely share!
With the exception of the top left, all of these pictures were taken at my favorite art supply store, Jerry's Art-o-rama. There are stores all over the country. I go to the one in Tempe (I think it's kept afloat by ASU)