the end

After taking a break from blogging, I have started writing again in a brand new space:

I will be recording our story and writing practical tips for living a simple life with style.  I would love for you to check it out.  Feel free to subscribe to stay in the loop.  (You can also see a few pictures of the new addition to our family.)

to read more, click HERE.

the bridal shower recipes

I'm going to try to break down how I set up the menu and include the recipes I used.  I made the whole menu vegetarian so the bride could try everything.  Three of the recipes I'd never made before, but everything turned out perfectly and was soooo good.  We did not miss the meat one bit.  Here we go...

three dips:

My grocery sells french rounds (essentially thin slices of a french baguette, brushed with olive oil, and baked), as well as olive tapenade and spinach artichoke dip.  These were all bought, and then I only had to make the white bean + parsley dip the night before.  I've blogged about that recipe before, since it's one of my favorites.

finger foods:

 This asparagus + gruyere tart was a new recipe I found, and it is a keeper.  The tart looks really beautiful when it is cooked, but it is also simple to make - only 3 ingredients! 

Roasted pepper + goat cheese sandwiches became the vegetarian "main course" of the shower.  I roasted the peppers and marinated them overnight (let it be known that roasting peppers is a hot endeavor, and buying them in a jar would make this recipe more simple).  I did substitute kalamata olives for the capers because the extra capers would have gone to waste in my kitchen.  The morning of the shower, these sandwiches were just quick assembly - spread goat cheese on ciabatta bread, add basil leaves, olives, peppers, red onion.  done.

They had incredible flavor from the marinade, herbs, and were a huge hit.

Pesto pea salad was also quick assembly right before the shower.  I recommend mixing the spinach and pesto first, then adding the peas, parmesan and pine nuts (so they don't end up at the bottom of your salad bowl).  If you have enough basil to make the pesto - go for it!  I was running short on time, so I bought mine.


Lemon yogurt cake is a three-step dessert that ends up being moist, tart and light all at once.  Since Zach doesn't love lemon, I try to make it when I know he won't be around.  The recipe starts with an easy cake batter (no mixer needed!), a lemon simple syrup poured over the hot cake, and then a glaze to finish it off.  I made the cake the night before, but added the glaze when I woke up the morning of the shower.  Berries are so good with the tart lemon flavor.

Crisp elephant ears (miniature size) were a last minute addition the morning of the shower.  Since I had an extra puff pastry leftover after the asparagus tart, I decided to make these pastries to serve with coffee.  Only 3 ingredients and these some baking time turned out a French pastry success (and the cinnamon is optional).  I would totally recommend making them just for fun.

p.s.  See more photos of the shower in yesterday's post!  Want more brunch or shower recipes?  Try this post.

a bridal shower for katelyn

I recently hosted a little party for my soon-to-be sister, Katelyn, at my house, and our side of the family came to shower her with home essentials (while regaling her with childhood stories about my brother).  It couldn't have been more fun to celebrate with her and anticipate their fast approaching wedding.

I made blue watercolor stripe invitations, and the table was filled with streamers in shades of blue, milkglass, and fuji mums.  Each guest brought their favorite cleaning supply to help the new couple when they move into their new apartment.  Now Jordan and Katelyn have a mini stockpile of dish soap, shower cleaner, laundry detergent, etc...  One of my bridal showers included this idea, and I'm still using those supplies four years later!


p.s.  Recipes from the vegetarian menu will be posted tomorrow!  (My mom was a rockstar and helped me get all the food ready.)

our garden

Gardening is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the summer.  I love spending time getting my hands dirty, pulling weeds, and watching the growth.  We were blessed with a home that already had a lot of landscaping done, and last summer my mom helped me add some lavender and speedwell plants to fill in vacant spots.

This summer, there were two areas I wanted to tackle - the bed by the garage and the two beds in front of our porch.  The main problem by the garage was that the bleeding heart plant dies around mid-June, so I needed to fill in that area.  The beds in front of our porch were lopsided and only contained bushes; I wanted to add height, symmetry, and annuals.  It is still a work in progress, but I love it already!

See the changes below:

before  ::  by the garage
after  ::  added jalepeno, red pepper, cilantro plants to grow around the bleeding heart

before ::  in front of porch (sunny and lopsided)
after  ::  exchanged little boxwood for a lilac bush, added two peony bushes and thyme to fill in between the plants

before  ::  in front of porch (shady and too short)
after  ::  added two astilbe plants and transplanted boxwood

Overall I love the changes and smelling the lilac flowers is the best!  Last year, Hayley was so sweet and asked me to post about our front porch makeover.  Click here to see the before & after pictures, and here to see how vintage bargains helped me save cash :)

Cinque Terre

On the sea, looking from Vernazza (Town #4) harbor over to Monterossa (Town #5).
Vernazza from the (intense) hiking trail
Our room in the yellow building at the top of the hill
overlooking Vernazza on our hike to Corniglia (Town #3)

part of the hiking trail
unique lighting at a focaccia shop in Corniglia
focaccia, mid-hike
pesto pasta + fresh anchovies in Manarola (Town #2)
main street of Vernazza on Easter Sunday

our favorite focaccia shop in Vernazza
the church right on the harbor
last piece of focaccia at the train stop

In the middle of our trip, we split from our friends for a weekend jaunt to 5 small villages on the coast of the Mediterranean.  They are fishing communities in the middle of a national park connected by hiking trails and a train.  The shops, restaurants, and lodging are all locally owned, of which the townspeople are rightfully proud.

This area is known for fresh anchovies and for creating focaccia bread and pesto.  We booked a room at the top of our village - Vernazza, in the building that used to be the town mill. Free breakfast was included at Il Pirata, a pastry shop owned by twin Sicilian brothers, Gianluca and Massimo (who are simultaneously crazy and welcoming).  A free pastry, cappucino, and Italian granite - iced fruit smoothie - started off our day spent outdoors exploring and hiking.

Between our time spent in chaotic Roma, touristy Firenze, and stunning Paris - this was our little escape to be in the countryside and by the water.  It was calming and small, and I'm so glad we included it.  The point of being in Cinque Terre is not to see a particular site or museum but to experience true Italian culture, people, scenery, and food.

One of my favorite moments of the trip was on our first night there, which happened to be Good Friday.  The town villagers assembled after dark for a walking vigil from the church by the water's edge up to the very top of the town - singing and following a statue of the body of Jesus on the cross.  They sang the most beautiful, melancholy songs and had candles lit along the path.  It was surreal, and I will think of it every year on Good Friday. 

an outfit

sweater  ::  anthropologie
jeans  ::  j.crew
gold belt  ::  j.crew
black flats  ::  gap
broke pearl necklace  ::  gift from husband

  1. I'm on summer break now, which makes outfit pictures a little easier during the daylight hours!
  2. Loving a short-sleeve sweater for unpredictable Midwest weather.
  3. These flats helped me through loads of walking around Europe, along with my Converse and Target sandals, and they are seriously comfortable. 
  4. Hello, bathroom.
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