Eat: Roasted Buffalo Wing Cauliflower Bites

posted on: Friday, February 27, 2015

Cody and I swooned over this snack/side dish at a Christmas party we went to last year - as in we almost ate all of them and no one else got any. It was embarrassing, but they were soooo intoxicatingly good! 

We immediately added them to our list of food to make often after that day. These bites are full of flavor, not too hard to make, and you get to eat cauliflower - that pasty veggie that's never been on my grocery list, until now. 

I've adapted this recipe from here.

You will need:
  • 1 large head cauliflower chopped into small bites
  • 2/3 cup of buffalo wing sauce, we use the Trader Joe's stuff
  • 1/2 cup of any flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (I like to use 2 tsp, love garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Heat the oven up to 400 F. Spray an oven-safe pan for the bites. Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl that can handle being filled up with the cauliflower bites. Pour the bites into the bowl of sauce mix and coat the bites well by gently stirring and tossing. Once the oven is ready, spread the bites onto the pan and roast for 20 minutes. 

Some recipes say you should remove the bites half way and retoss in more sauce, but I prefer simplicity. Besides, I have no wish to remove and handle 400 degree-cauliflower pieces unless I'm about to eat them.
The buffalo sauce mix and cauliflower prepare to meet...
bite-sized pieces
Coat bites well
After: Roasted buffalo cauliflower bites! NOM!

Wear: a summer dress in winter

posted on: Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Tuesday - so this means it's time once again for The Creative Closet style challenge! These little pre-planned style posts give me a great creative outlet to see what I can put together while still staying true to the season we're in: The. Dead. Of. Winter.

This week we're trying our style hand at asymmetrical pieces. I dove into my closet and picked out a dress (one I also wear in summer) with a diagonal hem, teamed it up with my warmest running tights, prep school blazer, a beanie, Alpaca mittens, and loose braid to keep it toned down. My boots (a Christmas gift) are some of my most practical winter shoes that don't sacrifice design and quality. I know I'll wear them for many, many years!

Dress - Target | Hat - GAP | Handmade mittens - Peruvian Alpaca from La Feria | Boots - Luchesse | Blazer - GAP | Scarf - American Apparel

(I only highlight links where I think an item is still available, a lot of what I wear is from seasons past)

p.s. thanks for man-ing the camera Cody!

Faith: The Jubilee Professional Conference 2015

posted on: Saturday, February 21, 2015

Nine days ago I would have had no idea what the title of the post was about. Yesterday, I experienced the fireworks of what happens when your faith life and your career life meet up and have a sit-down together.

Cody and I were invited by a member of our church small group to attend the Jubilee Professional conference that is part of a much larger young adult faith-based event, Jubliee. Each year the Center for Christian Outreach teams with the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation to throw a weekend bash that celebrates recent college grads and their careers, lives and other passions in the context of the love of God.

Thankful we we able to attend.
I certainly fall in to the young professional/millennial category - I'm searching for my best fit career-wise using the talents I've been given and cultivated without settling. It was a blast of fresh air to hear a Christian perspective on today's often scary dynamic work situations, and how to put yourself out there in faith, while living your faith.

Jubilee Pro was all about those of us 5 - 20 years out of school creating our careers and being agents of influence, whether we know it or not. How does what we do everyday in our workplaces affect those we work with for the greater good? How do we show love? How do we share our personal transformations in a challenging world?

A number of well-spoken thought leaders and change drivers inspired us to think about why we choose to believe what we do, both politically and spiritually with the metaphor of tribes. How can we break out of 'tribal' thinking, or believing what we do because we just were raised that way, or that's just the group we feel comfortable with; at the end of the day, how do we solve problems focusing on making sure that love is our standard?

One of our favorite presenters left us with these ideas: "Our existence here is to love people because they are people, not because they are on 'our side'." // If we could first find the middle ground with those we seem to be at odds with - how about starting with the agreement that we simply want people to flourish?

Another shared how his tech consulting company has no CEO. As president, he thinks of the CEO as the love and teaching of Jesus Christ. He puts his employees and their dreams front-and-center, as well as the company's and client's values. This atmosphere of support and genuine listening makes for a creative workplace where employees thrive, clients are satisfied and feel heard, and profit can follow naturally. The relationships nurtured are the driving force.

One of my favorite speakers encouraged the church to turn outward to embrace truth about modern career struggles, and speaking to those needs with the unique and amazing resources it has. What a great series it would make - to think through the changes and unforeseen paths our lives and careers take through the safety of the church environment that is primed for our vulnerability.

Cody and I were able to nab some good reading material at the bookstore afterwards on each of our interests.

The FRAMES books look at a variety of research on American society and share ways to understand where you might be in life and ways to think about cultivating your circumstance with a Christian teachings in order to thrive.

Our individual buys on communications & messaging for me, and arts for him ;)

It was an eye-opening few hours, and I can't stress enough how refreshing it was to hear about God's love spoken through career paths, and the blessings that unfold in response for everyone involved. 

Something to leave you with is a solid, simple question asked at the conference. How can we be Christians every day, not just Sunday? 

A master bedroom with both of us in mind

posted on: Thursday, February 19, 2015

 Our master bedroom has finally come together! As an avid sleeper, it's one of my favorite rooms in our little half of a duplex, or the "half-bungalow" as I call it. Sharing this room has been an adventure. Of course I got the bigger dresser, but Cody has done a pretty good job corralling his books items to keep things neat. I've noticed I've become a lot neater once I became the maid ;)

I tried to keep the space from becoming too girly, but I'm not sure I succeeded. I think part of that comes from trying to work with what I already had, (read: college stuff). 
Bed. The focal point - duh!
My dresser, the catchall for everything.

This headboard has a great story. My crafty and creative landlady/friend made it from wood she found, and it can double as a table! It adds the perfect amount of rustic to this modern house.
I covered two old lamps with coffee bean sacks, and spray-painted the bases with mirror paint. 

Better shot of both lamps, and the ever-popular pintuck West Elm bed spread! Red pillow is an antique from my grandparents, I love incorporating family pieces.
This is Cody's dresser, I framed his dried boutonnière I made him for our wedding. The crazy cute piggy bank was his grandfather's - I've coveted it for years.
Cute basket for extra blankets and a vintage reproduction piece I thrifted from an Ohio antique store.

I had the best time pulling this room together, it's my first 'master bedroom' and I think it turned out pretty well! Thoughts? What have you experienced trying to create a bedroom space that accommodates two personalities?

Wear: polka dotted with project creative closet

posted on: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Today's post is inspired by the Creative Closet challenge I'm participating in, hosted by the lovely women of The Modern Tulip and Life Could Be A Dream. As you might be able to discern, the topic was....polka dots! 

My own take on polka dots was finding something I could wear that was work appropriate, comfy but interesting. The skirt here was an anthropolgie sale item, the top is Old Navy and the tights are Target. Apologies for the brown shoes, but I have to wear flats to work since I stand all day!

While working on this project, it struck me that I had no idea how such a popular pattern came to be. So I did a tiny bit of research and wanted to share some findings from 'polka dot history' I found at this site
"A vintage 1880s Victorian polka dot jacket that was worn by a polka club member"
Cool jacket huh? I could imagine this one for sale at Modcloth! Did you know the word 'polka' is a Bohemian word for a Polish woman? Most people realize it as a pattern, but it is also a dance that appeared in 1830 to 1890 - it's a fast, quick-stepping romp! I learned it with my ballroom dance class in college (for Phys Ed, lol), and it is FUN!
The dance was so popular for decades, that polka clubs popped up and a polka uniform was even created. Guess what that uniform's main design element was? You guessed it! POLKA DOTS!

Wear: Flowers in Winter + Vintage valentine

posted on: Thursday, February 12, 2015

Good morning! 
I woke up to sunshine :D but it was quickly obliterated by a gray sky and some very violently blowing snowflakes. That stuff is hitting the Northeast, hard. Again. Today I'm participating in my first linkup project with The Creative Closet! Here goes...

My dad has been sending me pics of a few little blooms coming up in our Louisiana neighborhood, and there have been more instances than I can count where moving back to that latitude sounds like something we should have done yesterday. I love the "green" smell of spring, earthy, neon and vibrant - it's life for me! Dreaming...

But we're here for now, so I've been practicing "flower therapy" when I have to get dressed. I shot these myself on 10-second timer last night, hence the rockin' desk lamp lighting - and sometimes blurred bits (deliberate of course). It was a laugh for sure, but Cody had some calculus to work on and I had to leave him be.

Speaking of hubs, this is definitely a date night look for me! And did I mention it's relevant to this upcoming lovey-dovey holiday? ;) #valentine'sday

 Apparently my mother used to have a love of big, flowery patterns. Enough so that dad coined them her "garden collection." Guess the petal doesn't fall far from the flower :)
 In addition to date-wear, this was also one of my work outfits from Wednesday this week, and I brought the bloom! I've never received more compliments on this vintage top than yesterday (guess we're all wanting some spring), so that was data enough for me to want to share it here for you. The brand is Elles Belles - I've never heard of it. I think I found it at Buffalo Exchange a few years back (a southern, second-hand clothing chain).
I had a gift card to ULTA that I spent on some wide, simple hair clips in rose gold, black and silver. I love the look of loose hair that is still held in check somehow, and adding this pinch of glint  modernizes the whole look. The bracelet is vintage find here in Pittsburgh's rather trendy Lawrenceville neighborhood. 

I just wanted to say before I go...

Not that it will be warm here by then or anything, but I believe in hope!

Home style: Lessons learned from a small bathroom

posted on: Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We love the open-space feel of our little 1960s duplex, but boy is our one bathroom small. We're talking wee tiny! It's adorable, but storage space gets tricky fast.

This has taught us to minimize to what we actually need, and I tell you, it feels great. Mr. Einstein said it: "the measure of intelligence is the ability to change." (He'd roll over in his tomb if he knew what this post was about.)'s bathrooms!!

I was lucky to have my own bathroom as a kid. It had tons of cabinets and I filled those things up with every kind of lotion and potion my that sounded like a miracle for solving pre-teen body-image issues. I aim to never have that much crap again! Whenever I visit my parents and see those still half-empty bottles of overpoweringly-scented glitter lotion (yes, still there), I physically cringe.

Having a small bathroom encourages us to only get what we need and use the most, there just isn't room for impulse buys. I've actually really enjoyed narrowing down my own personal care product needs to simple, good things that nourish my skin and hair and don't clog our virally non-existent shelves and cabinets with more than I need.  I still like trying new products, so we purposefully don't buy large bottles that we'll get sick of before we run out. (Recycle those bathroom plastics when they do run out!)

The previous owner and I flipped the space over the summer, painting the bright pink wall tiles white, and installing a new tub and vanity. I also painted it a very calming, warm gray tone that lets little colors pop out around the room.  I love this very-important-room, and wanted to share some of the ways we've adapted to it.

This is the entire space. You can turn on the shower and sink whilst sitting on the throne.
Keeping the pretty (but useful!) stuff on the glass shelf over the toilet. The pink catch-all was my grandmother's, and I store bobby pins in a washed-out jam jar.
This setup of buckets and hooks from IKEA was what my friend/landlady used when she lived here, we've kept it around since it's the perfect way to keep most-used items on hand.

I've pretty much absorbed all the space in the drawer with my makeup and brush, but hey - Cody only needs about three things for his upkeep!

Our under-sink storage are his and hers baskets wit bulkier, less used items.

Lights! Camera! Teeny bathroom - go!

Experience is the best teacher when learning to live small. What are some positive things you've learned from tiny bathrooms? 

Us: our engagement story!

posted on: Sunday, February 8, 2015

In honor of our little three-month wedding anniversary today I wanted to share our engagement tale here. Ya'll - this one is as good as it gets. 

Let me set the stage: imagine a six stitches in a big toe, a blue surgical glove, a rubber raft and a caribbean island....

Captain Cody. I had wondered why he was so smiley on that memorable boat outing...
Where it happened:

We had come to St. John in the US Virgin Islands to be teachers/camp counselors to a group of local kiddos on the south-east end of the island, the less touristy area. The 31 days we were to spend there would be like the shifting Caribbean Sea around it. We lived in eco-tents free of charge as payment for our work, watching lizards leap from the rafters during the day, and slept under mosquito nets at night to avoid getting Denge fever, but it was a BEAUTIFUL place with lovely people.

We'd begun helping one of my graduate school professors there with her film on the invasive Lionfish that is destroying reef ecosystems by eating young fish. After our last day of filming, we headed up to celebrate the succesful shoot with her and the cameraman at a local bar, when we got swamped by a wave of misfortune...

Trunk Bay, our engagement spot...not bad! We were right were those people in that little boat are in the bottom left. Photo by me.
While climbing the rustic stone steps outside the bar, my waterlogged cheap sandal bent under and my big toe caught on the next step - on a large, broken seashell worked into the cement. Six stitches and one prescription for Vicodin later, I was making my way across a rugged, mountainous island on crutches for the rest of our last week there. Devastation.

Cody had wanted to rent a dinghy (a life raft with a motor) to tour the famous north shore the day of the accident, which we obviously canceled after my incident. With strict instructions to stay out of the water should I get a staph infection, trips in small bouncy boats were out.

How it happened anyway:

Cody seemed oddly determined that we should have a boat outing. Defying my protests of getting my foot wet, he reserved a cute little boat the day before we were leaving St. John. With a blue plastic surgical glove tied around my injured foot with my sneaker string holding it on, we set off.
There was beautiful smooth sailing, at first. We hadn't been out of the tents in a week and it was such a relief to see the Caribbean blue sea and green islands and to feel wind. We had PB & Js on a quiet beach, then realized we had only 30 minutes left in our 3 hour trip. We hadn't even made it to Trunk Bay yet! The second most beautiful beach on Earth!!

But our boat renter had failed to tell Cody how to restart our outboard motor after turning it off or how to lower it. Ignoring his desert upbringing, he bravely attempted to get us going, but we only made it after some sympathetic snorkelers came to the rescue.

Trunk Bay was right around the next point, but as the little boat churned toward the bend, the sky clouded and the wind picked up, pulling the waves along with it. With the dinghy bouncing along and sometimes catching air, I was getting soaked and mad! What if sea water got in my foot-glove?? I knew us going out on the water with me in my fragile state was a bad idea. I demanded we turn around and head back.

Cody shouted over the motor and water, "We're so close! Let's see Trunk one last time!!" There wasn't a way for me to get over to the motor and change our direction, not that I'd know what to do with it (not all Louisiana people are born seaworthy either), so I just held on and glared at Cody through dripping sunglasses. We bounced into the World's Second Most Beautiful Bay a hot mess. Cody cut the engine and we drifted, seeing the beach from the floating seabird's point of view. I kid you not on the next part - the clouds parted, the sun came out, and Cody said: "Can you give me my pants?" (He was wearing swim trunks Mom!).

Of course I wanted to know why, to which I was told, "You know why." That's when my heartbeat started speeding up and I finally got a clue. I handed over those pants.

He pulled a small jewelry pouch out of the pocket and held it close.

I felt that we were in a bubble on the ocean, there isn't a sound I remember, only calm. After reminding me that he had once told me he wanted to propose on a boat, and that life together was going to be an awesome adventure no matter where we live or what we do as long as we did it together, he pulled out a white gold wedding band, his great-grandmother's who shared a deep, deep love and devotion with her family - and asked me to marry him. With hardly any wind left in me, I managed to get out yes, and he nobly kneeled in the boat to put the ring on my finger. He also mentioned that his great-grandmother's actual engagement ring was waiting for me in El Paso for Christmas, but had been too risky to mail from Texas.
We had been living in eco-tents for 30 days, just a little rough but so HAPPY!
After shouting to the beach and the birds that we were getting married, we blasted back to Cruz Bay in a haze, narrowly missing the 5 o'clock ferry that was pulling out for St. Thomas (or rather, the ferry narrowly missing us in our little boat!). 

So our engagement story, and likely the rest of our lives, is as dynamic as the sea itself. There is rarely reliable and smooth sailing, and you are always navigating crests and troughs. We know our marriage and lives will depend solely on understanding that it is created by God, and that he has brought us together for his purposes. We are overjoyed to be starting on this new adventure!
Getting the actual engagement ring in El Paso. So beautiful and full of history!

Wear: A walk in the wintry park

posted on: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Here goes my first fashion post! The only downside is you have to deal with me as the model and Cody as the photographer, but that should make my fashion posts twice as amusing, right??

I love uniquely styled and comfy outfits, especially ones that use what you already have. Bonus points for vintage pieces and eco-conscious brands (when affordable).  Confession: I have the worst luck finding inspiration for winter outfits that are warm enough for the last three Pennsylvania winters I've survived, and I know I can't be the only one! Today I'm sharing an idea for a warm, cute and comfy winter date outfit. Cody and I spend a lot of time walking and hiking in the woods and parks near our home. It's beautiful, free and it just makes us feel better. Often we treat these walks as dates, time to just talk about how life is shaping up.

I usually go out in running tights and the same jacket, but this weekend I decided to try my hand at creating a nicer outfit while still staying warm. One of the things I wanted to make sure I accomplished here was using some vintage outerwear pieces I've picked up along the way. One of my best friends gave me the coat that belonged to her grandmother in the sixties (!) and the scarf was a recent thrift store find. Hat is from Target.

Cody was my photographer and he did a pretty darn good job - (we got six decent pics out of 120) keeping in mind that I have to work way too hard to feel comfortable in front of the lens, and I'm usually the one taking the pictures of Cody ;)

But, behold! A toasty-warm vintage outfit for an outdoor date in the snow! The dress was a recent buy on super-sale and can go through all seasons, the belt is from our rehearsal dinner, and the Hunter boots are a few years old but I got them knowing they'd last...forever.  I'm wearing super-light thermal tights and top under all of it.

Cody observed that I had a 'Snow White thing' going on here.

                                                The photog taking five for target practice.

Missed target.

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