Friday, November 30, 2018

Pumpkin Apple Pecan Streusel Muffins

Good morning! Good afternoon! Hello!  Sometimes I sit in front of the computer or my little notebook and have no idea what to share here.  I mean my life isn't that interesting, and let's be real here a minute, but social media makes me feel like I always need to have something new and exciting going on.  When really I just want to focus on is the beauty in the everyday the morning light through the fall leaves, snuggles with my pup and quality time with friends and family.  Therefore, I have consciously been trying to not be on my phone checking Instagram and Facebook as often.  I have been trying to pay attention to what is actually going on around me and living life instead.

sometimes you just gotta look up... 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Apple, Cinnamon Chip & Pecan Scones

I think I have hit my quarter life crisis, just a few years late.  I have been doing a lot of thinking this year, and I feel like it has gotten me a whole lot of no where.  I have hit this point in life where I don't know what's next in life, but I feel very unsettled.  Have you ever felt this way?  Unsettled really is the best way for me to describe it.  Charles and I's friends all fall between married and having kids or single.  The thing about it is that I don't really think I want to have kids.  I have always kind felt that if I ever (because this was a thought long before I knew Charles.) had kids I would adopt, because there are so many children out there who need a good home.  But is that really what we want to do? I don't know.  Or should I dive into my career, grow my business, and see where it takes me?  I don't ever really mention God here because I am 100% fine with everyone having their own do you...but I have been talking at God a lot over the past several months, hoping I will get shoved in the right direction.  I am a pretty firm believer that if it's meant to be it will be.  For right now though, I am just trying to get back to baking to help clear my head.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Just in time for Fall...Browned Butter Apple Cider Cake

It's time, I am ready to embrace fall.  Give me all of the apples and pumpkin spice.  Bring on the flannel, vests and boots.  It's time for college football Saturdays with cider and bourbon or beer.  As a child and even until recent years I thought summer was my favorite season, but I truly have a growing love for fall.  I love that the days roll from warm into chilly nights, and they leave you wishing for a bonfire and s'mores.  

There is also just something about the changing of the seasons, which makes me feel like you can start fresh again.  That you can try to once again start paying attention to the little things in life that often times mean the most.  Fall to me is a time to settle down a bit, to dig back into work and refocus on how I want to finish out the year.  It has left me revisiting my goals for the year, and left me wanting to hangout with my family and friends, which is exactly what fall lends itself so well to.   So this past weekend, not only was there football, but there were friends and family to tailgate and spend the day with...which is pretty much the perfect fall day.

Football season = Go PIRATES!

This need to embrace fall is one of the reasons I had the urge to make this cake.  When the recipe popped up in my inbox from Food and Wine, I knew I would make it soon.  The only thing I wanted to modify was using browned butter instead of plain unsalted butter in the cake.  The cake came out a little dense, but has a nice crumb at the same time.  It is nice and not overly sweet with yummy chunks of apple throughout.  The only thing I might change for next time is adding some toasted and chopped pecans.  If you like coffee cake and apple cider, I would definitely recommend giving this cake a try.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Classic Vanilla-Vanilla Cake

Hmm…well where do I start. I guess I start back at the end of January when baking went a little off to the side, not on the back burner, but let’s just say all my burners started being used. At the end of January, I started to really try and cook dinner for my husband and I every week night.  (Cue the tiny violin.)  We did it in an effort to try and save a little money, and let’s be real, just eat a little healthier.  That is not to say it isn’t fun; it’s really just that it takes some time. I have gotten about 95% better about meal planning since starting in January.  By that I mean, I literally write out a list of everything I need for the week, and try to get it all in one trip, generally right after Sunday spin class. (For a while there it got a little creepy when my phone knew my plans, and would let me know how long it would take me to get to Kroger.)

I do try to change things up week to week, so we both don’t get tired of eating the same things over and over again.  That being said, I most definitely still have the nights, where it has been one of those days, and I just don’t want to cook.  But cooking dinner takes time, especially when I don’t get home from spin class until about 7:35 p.m., and then need to shower and cook. (Cue tiny violin again) This just doesn’t leave a whole lot of baking time. (I have kind of transitioned from baking “therapy” to spin “therapy”.)  

However, over the past 8 months I have gotten to make some really fun cakes.  

There was a Washington Wizards Jersey cake…

 There was a baseball…

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Soft Pretzels & Lava Salt

(This is a total contradiction and an admission.)  I am a morning person who occasionally fights being a morning person, especially in the winter.  The thing I have come to realize is those mornings where I manage to workout before work, bake before most people are up, or catch a sunrise, are always better.  They are the wake up on the "right side", mentally jump out of bed, while actually slowly rolling out of bed, trying not to wake the dog, good days.  Instead of being one of those days where I wake up somewhere in the "middle" of the bed, slowly dragging through the morning, a little less motivated.  

Recently though, there have too many days (especially this time of year), where the alarm goes off, and instead of "jumping" out of bed, I reset my alarm and wiggle a little but further under the covers.  However, with this new realization, I am hoping I will start "jumping" out of bed a few more days a week, and enjoying my morning me time.  And if it happens to be a baking morning, it means I will have my headphones in, with some happy tunes turned up, so as to not wake said dog or my sleeping least not with music.  I can't be blamed, if they wake up because of yummy smelling baked goods, can I?  

This week has been like...

oh, hello (yes I still like writing with old school pencils)

Life in pieces...

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Did anyone say Snickerdoodle?

I have to admit this whole moving to a new city thing is hard.  It is hard to uproot, move away from friends and a city you love even if "change is good," even after almost an entire year in the new city.  You might be going, okay Lauren, where is this coming from...but I went to D.C. this past weekend to meet up with a few brides and grooms, and have some fun with friends.  And, well, it feels like no matter what, every time I drive over "the hill" on 395N and see the amazing view of the city, I get a little sad that I don't live there anymore. (Ya know that hill right before you get to the Pentagon?...if you don't know, see looks a little something like that but better.)

Yes, I know that it takes time to get used to any new place.  That it takes time to make new friends (especially as an adult), but still.  D.C. just has this energy to it that speaks to me.  Besides missing my friends, I probably miss running around the monuments the most.  Oh and the food!  Richmond has great restaurants, don't get me wrong.  I mean there are a few places I wish I could eat at every week.  Just sort of divide the nights out, and I'm done, no meal planning needed, but I can't because that would be expensive. (Helen's, Acacia, Spoonbread, Kitchen on Cary, McCormack's Whiskey Grill...that leaves two nights a week to try something new.)  Sometimes though, I just miss my old easy to pickup on the way home, DC favorites.  Can an &Pizza please just open in Richmond already, oh and bring a District Taco with you please!  

Okay, okay I will stop whining here for a minute, because truthfully D.C. is so close and only a quick drive to see the city (if I time it right), to hang with friends, and well stuff my face with my favorite foods every now and again.  And when I can't be there I will keep trying out new to me restaurants in Richmond, and some new recipes in the kitchen.  

Thursday, January 18, 2018

In a week of baking...Blueberry-Raspberry Cobbler

Can we talk about how I have been wanting to make cinnamon rolls since May?  That I have been standing in my own way and making up excuses for 8 months. 8 MONTHS!  Until this week when I finally made them.

Sometimes I am truly my own worst enemy when it comes to procrastinating about non-work things. I am just going to put it out there, but I am going to finish my kitchen tabletop soon!  I mean...I only started working on it 5 years ago...since then it has been covered with one table cloth or another.  Oops!

In all seriousness though there are definitely things I drag my feet on when it comes to my personal "to do" list.  Which is funny when my job requires almost everything be done on a deadline constantly.  And by constantly, I mean I used to work off a 20 week work plan, and in my new roll I created my own work plan so I knew what needed to happen and when.  I have been trying to get more organized in my personal life though.  I even bought a planner, and am trying to be a better meal planner now that my office isn't right next to a grocery story.  I have also been trying to get more done on weeknights, including cleaning and baking.  But so as to not set myself up for failure, I also completely understand that sometimes you just need to make dinner and then hangout on the couch and do nothing.  This week I have been pretty good though, and without having to run to the store pulled together this super easy and delicious blueberry-raspberry cobbler.  It turned out exactly as I hoped it would, and will be making this again soon!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cinnamon Chip Cookie Sandwiches

Do you ever feel like you have lost your voice, even for a minute?  That there is so much newness and oldness going on that you don't really know where to go or what steps to take?  When part of you still feels stuck in the past, while another part is trying its hardest to embrace the future and all that it holds.  That is not to say I don't want to bring back part of the past.  I want to get my voice back and start blogging again.  I want to find joy in baking again, in spending a couple hours in the kitchen instead of being lazy on the coach all day.

This year I just want to "do" more, achieve more, laugh a little more often, and focus even more on family and friends.  These are not resolutions, they are goals for 2018...I even have them typed up with a few other things so I won't forget them.  What are you planning for 2018, and I don't mean starting the year on a whole 30 diet.  Let's be real, cookies and all of the things I love don't fall into that so I won't be trying it myself anytime soon.  These cookies, well these cookies you should definitely give a try...the cream cheese filling is up to you.  The stack above was made for a friend's birthday (James), picked up by another friend who happened to be in Richmond (Mike), driven to my old office my another friend (Emily...Mike & Emily = husband & wife), and the birthday boy was 100% surprised.  Which I call a success, and I couldn't have done it without great friends!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sweet Potato-Cranberry Orange Scones

There are all of these quotes about change out there…and recently it feels like I need a calendar with one each day as a friendly reminder.  Like today's could be…”The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new.”  And then tomorrows’ could be, “It’s amazing how drastically your life can change when you stop accepting s*** you hate.” Or “Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”

You see the thing is recently (well almost three months ago now...I am a bit behind) I made what feels like one of the hardest decisions I have ever made that was a BIG change.  After 9 years, at the same company, working with some of my closest friends, and with great colleagues, I decided to move on.  I decided to fully jump into life in Richmond with my husband and puppy, and take a new job that would allow me to actually be home more often.  The thing about it is that I don’t always love change in general.  I know, I know change is good; it is what challenges us, and helps us grow…but still it can be F*ing hard.  So, I am trying to jump feet first into my new roll.  To push back the tears that come when I miss my old team and work friends, and get excited about finally living in Richmond after 8 months of “living” here.  So cheers to new adventures, and more treats with new co-workers. 

This little lady is thoroughly enjoying her new home in Richmond.