Wednesday, November 27, 2013

a different kind of thankful list

i love thanksgiving. 
but, i do get a little bit overwhelmed by all the the grateful & thankful lists and "what are you thankful for" etc. etc. etc. all over the internet and world during this month.

this isn't because i don't care about gratitude, it's the opposite. it's because i try so hard to focus on gratitude every day of the entire year, so when november rolls around i feel pressured like THIS is the time to talk and show gratitude all packed into one holiday...and it feels like i need to have some amazing, all-inclusive thankful list to sum up everything i'm grateful for. this stresses me out because i could never sum up everything in one list, post, day, week, month, or year! every day of life is beautiful and has something to be thankful for, and i am constantly in awe of the blessings of this life.

so this year, i'm taking a deep breath and realizing that this is simply the time to reflect on the gratitude we should be feeling and showing all year round. i'm realizing that i don't need to make grand lists of all the many and obvious things i am grateful for, like our jobs and family and house and health. these are so incredible, but like i said- they are the obvious ones i am saying thank you for in my heart every single day and waking moment. that continues even stronger in november, but this year in this post i am focusing on smaller gifts that i truly am thankful for right now...i want more specific things in my 2013 thanksgiving list, so that when i look back i remember the special and unique things i took time to truly appreciate this year through this wonderful holiday. 

this list is also different because it has some things that i might not have been grateful for normally, but this season has made me change my perspective on them and realize the positives about them. 

this week in my TFA class, i asked my students to tell me one thing they are grateful for. mostly every student said, "my family" ... "a roof over my head" ... etc...which are wonderful things! but then, one student said, "i'm grateful for my ADHD because it means i have so much energy and enthusiasm all the time!" everyone laughed and i smiled and thought what a beautiful thing that was to be grateful. he was taking something that could be negative or challenging and expressing gratitude for the positive side of it. and that, i think, is what thanksgiving season should do for all of us.

so, i don't need to have EVERYTHING in this thankful list. i need to have it in my heart, but i can step back and just list some different and special thankful items for right now. 

so here we go..a little bit of a different thankful list..where i am truly trying to find new things to be grateful for, other than the major things i strive to have gratitude for all year round. 
{i am firstly thankful for you for reading all of that rambling!!}

2013 thankful list

  • plans that change. i am grateful that although we are planners and put effort and thought into our future, unexpected things still happen. it keeps life exciting, and reminds me i'm not always in charge. it's a big serving of humble pie that ends up turning out for the best later. 
  • g chat. i know it sounds funny! but g chat gets me through the day sometimes. my friends + hubby and i can all write little things to each other and i love coming back to my computer at work and seeing the gmail tab flashing "chase says..." "kendall says...." "anna says..." "di says..." "abby says..." it brightens my day and also you'd be surprised at some of the deep chats you can have on there!
  • differences. lately i've appreciated differences more than i ever have before... differences of opinion allowing me to have some of the best conversations. differences in experience teaching me new things. our sweet little newborn nephew being different and even more special because of it. differences are what make us all unique and what makes life interesting.
  • serendipity. for being my favorite word and favorite thing. i have experienced so many happy coincidences lately, and there's nothing better.
  • comfortable silence. the sign of a good relationship. most thankful for this on nights when i get home from work + a long night of grad school and come in the door to my husband who just welcomes me with open arms and lays on the couch and just lets us sit and relax...and eat kettle corn. no words necessary.
  • california. for being our current home and making us feel loved & welcome... and warm{er} this winter.
  • challenges. seriously, sounds cheesy but i am grateful for you. you make me feel like i'm doing something with my life and you're teaching me that the hardest things in life are usually the most worthwhile.
  • june. for making me so excited for are when i finish TFA, grad school, and a few other crazy things. excited for a change and new chapter..{and to celebrate two years!} also grateful for the hard work that will come in between now and then.
  • the gopro. for capturing our life better than ever this year. we have some amazing memories recorded thanks to you!
  • dishes. for being proof that i get to cook, that we eat well, and that my husband does them after the meal :)
  • airplanes. i can't be writing on the "well-traveled wife" and not mention gratitude for my favorite thing- travel! grateful for airplanes for a) taking us all over the world. b) always making me giddy to be on them. c) giving out biscoff cookies. d) taking us home today to be with family for thanksgiving.

i love this life so much. the good days, the hard days, 
all of it is just pretty remarkable if you step back 
and realize how blessed you are. i love thanksgiving 
even more now that i think i've finally unlocked 
what it means for me-- pushing extra gratitude 
into the areas of life where it might be 
harder to show it all year round.

so thank you, thanksgiving, for changing our focus, 
for providing the BEST food, 
for being a reason to go home and be with loved ones, 
and for kicking off the holidays. {i see you, christmas.}
happy thanksgiving to all! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

tuesday ten: kitchen favorites

in honor of thanksgiving this week, {and the fog rolling in, 
making me want to cook a lot more}, i thought this tuesday 10 
would be a list of all my favorite kitchen items.

before i was married i honestly only knew how to cook 
brownies and quesadillas. just enough to survive on in college! 
my mom is an incredible cook and i didn't understand 
why none of that had rubbed off on me.

well, once we moved away to the bay and had no family 
to have us over on sunday for dinner, and our own little city apartment 
to turn into a home, i suddenly fell in love with cooking and that has only 
increased since then. {you can see some of our favorite, simple recipes here.
before our wedding i had no idea which items to register for that would be useful 
in the kitchen, but now i could write a book on it. so, here's a little taste 
of current favorite kitchen items that we use in our tiny little kitchen.
i couldn't choose just ten! so it's tuesday {twenty}

top kitchen favorites
1. multiple sets of measuring cups. 
seriously, you need more than one!
my mom always had lots growing up, 
so i stocked up on my registry
because you can never have too many. 
i am always cooking and need these..
one set can be dirty, you just always need an extra!
i love these quality martha stewart sets. 

2. cookie dough scoop.
i use this all the time.
maybe because i make cookies all the time.
but it is so useful for lots of recipes!
it helps you scoop up and even amount,
and the spring handle helps easily
drop the batter onto the sheet with no mess.
i got mine here at crate & barrel and love it.

3. the blendtec + blender bottle.
i know blendtecs are expensive,
but i think i use this the most out
of anything in the kitchen.
we're obsessed, and it is so worth it.
we make our daily green smoothie
shakes, soups, and so much more 
in this amazing machine.
the blender bottle is the perfect
way to transport your smoothie
to work and shake it up again
before you drink it!

4. glass tupperware + canisters.
the word tupperware can make you
think of leftovers in a plastic bin. yuck!
these martha stewart glass tupperware sets
are magical. they have snappable lids 
so everything stays fresh & nothing spills.
they also look appetizing and i use them
every day to take for lunch to work!
the glass canisters are also our favorite
because they make our cereal, sugar,
flour, etc look appetizing and stay fresh!

5. crepe wand. 
i know this is random,
but i LOVE this cute little crepe 
wand and actually use it all the time...
it is necessary for crepe making!
see our favorite crepes here.

6. this crepe spatula is a lifesaver, 
and not just for crepes! it is basically an 
oversized spatula and i can't tell you how often i use it...
for pizza in the oven, pancakes, and so many
others that needs some extra support!

7. uniquely shaped ice trays.
these little square ice trays by martha stewart
make the cutest, most appetizing ice cubes.
i always use them when we have friends over, 
and they add a little flair to our glasses.

8. this cutting board with a built in strainer 
is genius. just wash your fruit or veggies with 
this over the sink, then chop away!

9. cute aprons. i have a little apron
collection of darling aprons. i need to
wear them more, but i love hanging them
in the kitchen and i feel like a little chef
when i whip one out.

10. this cheese grater + container all in one.
it's genius! instead of a big grater with a plate
underneath, you just grade right into the container.
it is again, martha stewart and comes with
all different lids for different grating, plus
a sealable lid for when you're done. easy!

11. good knives. i use these every day,
multiple times per day! this fun colorful set
brightens up the kitchen, and they are great.
12. lots of spatulas and wooden spoons.
i also use tons of these all the time.
the wooden spoons are nice because 
they don't scratch my all-clad stainless
pans, and it's nice to have all the assortments 
for whatever you're mixing/ spreading.

13. best smelling dish soap, hands down.
and yes, that is our tiny portable dishwasher.
city living!

14. a lemon/ lime press.
first of all it's darling, second of all
i think i get 70% more juice out of
lemons and limes using this.
{crate and barrel}
15. and lastly, i really can't live without these.
i just might be a germ-a-phobe, but there
is no better feeling than pulling out a clorox
wipe and disinfecting everything in the kitchen!

what are your kitchen faves?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

maple sweet potato doughnuts

i finally did it.
i bought a doughnut pan.
i am not even that into doughnuts!
but cake doughnuts are a different story.
and when i discovered these maple sweet potato doughnuts,
i knew it was time. best ever. go get a pan. thank me later!
maple sweet potato doughnuts
1 {15 ounce} can puréed sweet potatoes
1 egg
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons greek yogurt 
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

..for the glaze..
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup powdered sugar

first, spray the donut pan well with cooking spray. preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
open the can of puréed sweet potatoes {you can drain any liquid in the can} and add to a medium size mixing bowl. add in the egg, maple syrup, greek yogurt, and vanilla and beat until well combined. in another small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt & cinnamon.

add the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring just until they are combined.
carefully pour/ spoon the batter into the donut pan. bake for 11 minutes.
make sure to let them cool and set for a few more minutes once you take them out.

while the donuts bake, mix up the yummy glaze!
in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter + maple syrup together, whisking to combine once they begin to melt. add in the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.

once the donuts have cooled a little bit, spoon the glaze on or dip the tops of the doughnuts into the glaze. make sure to do it before it hardens and sets.

gobble gobble

Friday, November 22, 2013

travel tips: favorite travel sites + apps

the holidays are around the corner, and while 
you are planning trips and looking for new apps, 
these favorite travel sites & apps will help you make 
the most of your travel and devices. we are so lucky 
to have the internet and technology to connect us to 
places before we visit them and while we are there. here 
are some favorites that we use while traveling.. 
and they're just in time for thanksgiving travels. enjoy! 


1. tripadvisor 
{offline city guides}
we love this app! i know tripadvisor itself is obvious and many of you may 
have it, but the offline city guides part is first found it last year 
when we were visiting paris and rome. i mostly led the way around paris 
since it's my favorite, but when we got to rome we were a little less 
in-the-know. since we didn't bring phones or have access to 
internet when we were out and about, we downloaded the 
offline city guides beforehand, and then we could pull up 
maps, attractions, and any info we wanted because we had 
already downloaded it and needed no wifi to get to them. 
it even helps with public transit! just make sure to get the app, 
then download whichever city guide{s} you need for your trip. 
they are big, so download them when you have internet 
and leave some time to download, and then 
you have them right in your pocket!

2. flightview // airline apps
at some airports, the gate and departure times change multiple times. 
like we talked about in our tips for flying smart, we usually use 
our airline app to check flight status and gate, but you can also use 
flightview which has info for ALL flights leaving from your airport. 
it helps ease some stress and keeps you informed!

3. tripit
sometimes people are overwhelmed with all the organization and info that comes 
with planning a trip. you have the flight itineraries and confirmation numbers, 
hotel reservations, cars, museum tickets, transportation, it can get crazy fast! this 
app gets all of that info from your email {once you connect it} and keeps it 
ALL in one place. i have my own systems with this and haven't used this as 
much, but for some it may be a great way to manage all your trip info! 
i like to use passbook for my flights as well.

4. XE currency
i feel like i am good at math, but for some reason i always get confused with 
currency exchange. i don't know if it's the jet lag, or the denial at how the 
dollar does against some currencies...but i am always at a loss while shopping 
in other countries. this app works offline so you don't need internet, and it 
stores updated currency rates so that you can convert prices wherever you are. 
it has helped me many times, especially in the china markets when 
i needed to see how much, exactly, i was bartering for! :)

5. listmaster
use this, your notes app, your reminders app, or some organization app on your phone 
to create a packing list and check it off. it sounds simple, but when i have an upcoming 
trip i will think of random things i need at all different times. someone will suggest 
something, i'll read about something i need, or i'll just think of it. if you have your 
packing list in your pocket, you can add to it at anytime and then make sure 
that you have all you need when departure day comes!

6. triposo
this is a fun app with trip guides for all different cities. it's really good in europe, 
i recommend using the map to find info about tourist attractions. 
we always like to know the history and details 
of what we're seeing, and this has some great info. 

7. translation app
speakeasy and google translate are my favorite apps to help with translation. 
they are basically phrasebooks on your phone. sometimes you need a 
simple phrase or word when traveling, and you can 
just pull this out and quickly translate!

8. google maps
yes, we are a google family, but i am not biased sharing this one. 
google really is making improvements to their maps that will 
be even more helpful for travel. see these improvements here.

also check these apps out that i have 
yet to try but have heard great things about: 
free wifi finder, heywire, hotel tonight, iexit, pocket, jetpac, and uber.



this gorgeous site is kind of like pinterest for travel. 
you can connect to friends on social media, 
and you get amazing ideas from others. i love it.

2. vayable
this is the most incredible idea for a travel site. i'm in love with it. 
basically you go on and type in a city, and locals have posted 
offers you can buy. this is a way to really connect with 
a place and get a local experience. options range from 
a personal local guide through a neighborhood, 
to pasta making classes, to an authentic dinner 
in a local home. i cannot wait to use this site for 
something memorable! you could even use this 
for something unique in your own city!

3. gogobot

helps you plan trips, keep track of them, and document 

trips you've already done! i LOVE that you can 

enter every place you've ever been!

4. afar
unique and different things to do in 
cities all around the world.

save ideas for your next trip, create gorgeous reviews, 
and hear about new places from other travelers. 

this site and others like it help you track the best deals on flights and travel. 
we also like kayak, travelocity, and bing travel {when you search a flight, 
it tells you whether fares will drop in the next week, so you know 
whether to wait to buy.} see more travel budget tips here.

7. treat
lastly, i have a unique site that i love to use while traveling. 
because we are out of town a lot and we live away from family, 
this website is my favorite. it's important to me to remember 
special occasions and birthdays, and let loved ones know 
that we're thinking of them despite not being there in person. 
this cute website {a sister company of shutterfly and tinyprints} 
allows you to go online and personalize a greeting card 
for someone special. then, it will mail to you or straight to the 
person! it is so much better than getting a generic greeting card, 
and this is one case where the card would mean more 
than the gift. you can even schedule cards ahead of time, up to a year 
in that makes my organizer heart so happy! these cards are so 
thoughtful and unique...the only kind of greeting card you don't end up 
throwing away! there is one i love that looks like a magazine cover 
announcing someone's birthday..i am ordering it for my dad because we will 
be in europe at the time of his birthday, and it's something he'd get a kick out of! 
they are easier and usually less expensive than greeting cards.. and 
with the holidays coming i can't wait to use treat more! see the site here.

so, check these out for your next trip, 
and see all of our travel tips by clicking here.
happy trip planning!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

what we eat

we love food around here, and we've been eating well lately.
sometimes when i'm making dinner i can't help but snap a 
picture with my phone to send to my mom since we love 
cooking together and miss doing it!
here's some recent good food and recipes. enjoy!

 a fun way to do a salad bar at home, 
these muffins.

amazing roasted kale + butternut squash tart

two breakfast staples: 
old fashioned oatmeal + green smoothie

the best cookie i have had in a
long time! 4 kinds of chocolate chips.

lots of favorites in one picture: homemade lettuce wraps // 
a favorite mexican restaurant // pumpkin pie //
pineapple teriyaki chicken //salmon + brown rice 
+ seaweed salad // and last but not least: 
chicken, mushroom & broccoli bake..our favorite fall dinner.

peanut butter no-bakes. dare i say, better
than the regular kind with chocolate?

// garlic parmesan bread // margherita pizza at home // 
// roasted brussels sprouts // the best salad //

new favorite salad restaurant, right by our apartment!

a new ice cream place we found in palo alto..look at those flavors!

and, these are being produced almost 
nightly around here. come and get some 
before it's time for christmas cookies!

ps did anyone notice the amount of cookies mentioned in this post?
must be the holidays.... :)

for a few more healthy recipes to balance those out,