Monday, January 30, 2012

Mixology Monday: Atholl Brose

Let's face it: any way you slice it, Monday is the roughest, longest day of the week.  To help pass the time, I've decided to implement a new weekly blog post. I'm calling it Mixology Monday. My goal is simple: to share one drink a week with you lovely readers, as well as bar reviews as necessary.  Up this week?  The Atholl Brose cocktail at MacLeoad's Scottish Pub in the Ballard district of Seattle, Washington.

Since I'm Irish, I naturally assumed that there was no such thing as a Scottish pub or if there was, it had to be the lamest kind of pub in the world.  After all, it's the Irish, not the Scottish, who have their own drinking-themed holiday. Erin go bragh!

Long story short, it turns out Scottish pubs DO exist and this one is amazing!  If you like Scotch-based drinks, you'll love this place.  Even if you don't like Scotch, there's still something for everyone.

The lovely menu. So many Scotch drinks to choose from!

The most amazing Scotch drink I've ever had: the Atholl Brose.
The unassuming exterior on Ballard Avenue NW.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Miniature Leek and Goat Cheese Tarts

I had an event at the office this week and volunteered to make one of my favorite snacks for the occasion: leek and goat cheese tarts! They're bite-sized and packed with a ton of flavor. Plus, the total prep and baking time is under an hour so it's a win all around.

Here's how they're prepared:

First I sauteed 3 chopped leeks in butter with 1/2 cup of white wine and some
salt and pepper to taste.  
Then I filled my tart pan with thawed phyllo dough.  I added the leek mixture
to a bowl filled with 3 whipped eggs and 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Then I
spooned everything into the tart shells and sprinkled them with goat cheese.
Lastly, I baked the tarts in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes. Here's what
they looked like when I took them out.  They were gone in minutes at
the office party!

I've shared this post at:

Somewhat Simple

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snowmobiling - A Great Winter Sport!

My parents Christmas gift to us this year was a weekend of snowmobiling and fun at the family cabin. We chose last weekend to kick things off.  What a blast it was!

None of us had ever been snowmobiling before, but we all got the hang of it quickly. I think the best part of the whole excursion was that we had a paid trail guide who rode ahead of us (so we never got lost) AND we rode in the dark. Nighttime tours are the best!

With Katie and Marshall, preparing for our tour! 
We took very few breaks along the 2-hour trip so it was tough snapping any action shots. 
At the end of the tour. I was ready for another ride!
Inside the cabin where we enjoyed a steak dinner after our snow adventure - Beautiful, Handcrafted Jewelry

A friend of mine tipped me off to Have you heard of it?

It's a jewelry website full of beautiful, handmade pieces that look very similar to what you'd find at Anthropolgie or Shabby Apple, but at half the price and with greater flexibility -- you can choose to create your own pieces in brass, silver or 14k gold.

The signature Tirana Necklace
Arvana Earrings

Marquis Earrings

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup

I had a craving for soup last night, but wanted to try something on the lighter side and with chicken.  After digging through the pantry and some old cooking magazines, I came up with my own recipe for something I'm going to call Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup.  It's not quite thick enough to be considered a chili, but it's just as filling and equally delicious. If you like spicy foods, you'll love this!

Here's how it's made:

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a large pot.  Saute 1/2 cup of chopped onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste, and 1 1/2 pounds of chopped chicken. (About 5 minutes)  As the chicken begins to brown, add 1 tsp of oregano, 1 tsp of chili powder, 2 tsp of ground cumin, and 1 tsp of cayanne pepper. Cook on a low heat setting for another 5 minutes.

Then add 4 oz of chopped green chile peppers, 4 oz of jalapeno peppers, 18 ounces of chicken broth, 1 can of pinto beans, 1 can of white beans and monterey jack cheese (as much as you'd like!)  Stir together, then cover the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes.

When ready to serve, add two dollops of sour cream and fresh-squeezed lime juice.

I've shared this post on the following blogs:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Day!

We had a snow day here in Seattle today with more snow expected over night.  Hoping to get a walk in before the temperatures start to drop again. It's absolutely beautiful outside and so peaceful! I'm excited to use my free time at home today to work on some unfinished projects, namely scrapbooking. Yippy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DIY Chalkboard Cheese Plate

Chalkboard paint might be old sauce for the super crafty, but I still love it.  It makes so much sense on something like a cheese plate and would make a great gift for wine or cheese connoisseurs. Thank you Wit & Whistle for the great idea!

Fun Frog Shoes

I realize this isn't exactly exciting, blog-worthy news, but I'm just so happy about these shoes, I had to show them to you readers. Aren't they great?  They're Dansko and I'm absolutely in love with their frog pattern.

As you know from my previous posts about Pacific Northwest culture, everyone here seems very into the comfortable shoe thing. Hooray for me for jumping on the bandwagon!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Inspiring Messages Make a Difference

Mike and I are off to St. Louis tomorrow to visit his family and we couldn't be more excited.  We haven't seen his parents, his brother, our sister-in-law or our nephew in many, many months so we're looking forward to spending some quality time with them.  It will serve as a much-needed break too!

That being said, it's been a tough week. There are lots of things that Mike and I want to do this year with our life, big dreams we have together, but in recent days those things have seemed out of reach. Without going into detail, a lot of it is beyond our control so it's felt like one big exercise in patience.

To add to the drama, I've been walking around doing the whole "woe is me" thing too, but then this morning I came across this phrase on Keepin' It Thrifty and *bam!* --  what a great perspective! The more I read it, the better I feel.

Here's hoping if you're struggling in some way or having a rough week, it brings you happiness too!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January Designs & Flowers By Birth Month

Our dining room table has felt a bit sparse after removing our holiday decorations so I went searching online for some centerpiece inspiration.

This one is simple, but so colorful - gerber daisies, hypericum berries and a little bit of freesia.

But this one feels more like winter to me - white roses wrapped in twigs. It feels a bit more dramatic, but elegant at the same time.

Of course, this one would be best suited for this month since carnations are the birth flower for January:

I'll have to dig around my vase collection and see what I have. Maybe that will help determine which one of these gets arranged...

Also, in case anyone is curious, here's a complete list of birth months and the flowers associated with them. Hopefully it inspires you to add a little floral beauty to your dining tables too!

January - Carnation
February - Iris
March - Daffodil
April - Daisy
May - Lily of the Valley
June - Rose
July - Larkspur
August - Gladiolus
September - Aster
October - Marigold
November - Chrysanthemum
December - Narcissus

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Romantic Lego Proposal

If you love Legos as much as I do, you'll love this adorable stop motion proposal that a Georgia man created to surprise his future bride.  She said yes, of course!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Funny

Happy Friday everyone!  Here's a funny clip courtesy of The Daily What.  Watch as this little cutie pie plays with daddy's heart strings.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar Pecan Streusel

Over the holidays, I was given a cookbook called Home Baked Comfort, by Kim Laidlaw.  If you love baked goods and you don't already have this one, I highly recommend you run out and get it. It has the most wonderful recipes for unique desserts like whoopie pies with salted dulce de leche, plum upside down cake and apricot pistachio tarts.  I'm drooling already.

Last night I took a stab at pumpkin coffee cake with brown sugar pecan streusel. The full recipe can be found here.

Freshly glazed and still warm from the oven
The results of my taste testing.  "I'll just have a small bite" turned into
"I'll have a big slice."  Easy to do with this recipe!  
Here's the cookbook - go out and get it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Donut Snowman Treat

I love this idea for a snowman treat from A Little Tipsy. I would never think to put donuts on a stick, but it works! The mini chocolate chips, candies and green licorice are a nice touch too. I'd probably use an orange gum drop for the nose versus using an actual carrot (not sure kids will eat carrots with donuts?), but other than that I think this sweet treat is a winner!

DIY Shabby Chic Bird With Nest

One of our goals for 2012 is to finally buy a house, which of course we're super excited about. I love the idea of having something we can make our own, especially when it comes to things like paint colors and decorative accents.

For many years, we've done up our guest bedroom in shabby chic fashion so I hope whenever we move into a house, we can continue that tradition.  I think this shabby chic bird nest project from Today's Fabulous Finds would definitely work with that theme. It's charming and easy to put together. I might even add some plastic, blue robin's eggs to the mix for a flair of color.

See how it's made here!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What To Do With Leftover Christmas Cards?

Happy New Year, readers! We spent the weekend celebrating with our out of town guests, Carrie & Eric. We had a great time touring our own city with them. We tried new restaurants, went for long walks, took a ferry ride, played games and cooked together. It was a fantastic couple of days, but sadly, it's back to reality now!

We spent yesterday cleaning up all the Christmas decorations, but when it came time to take down our Christmas cards from the refrigerator, I just couldn't do it. I thought, "Isn't there anything else I can do with these beautiful cards besides toss them into the recycling bin?" 

After scouring the Internet, I came up with a couple of suggestions for taking all those cards and repurposing them:

1. Turn them into confetti - with so many colorful cards and a hole punch handy, this would be easy to do. It's also not holiday-limited if you punch the holes small enough. It can be used for any occasion!

2. Create gift tags - if you select images from your Christmas cards that aren't necessarily tied to the holiday itself, (e.g. snowflakes, snowmen, wintery landscapes, etc.) you can make a gift tag that can be used well past the holiday season. Personally, I know many people with birthdays in January and February so this is a very viable solution.

3. Make a cat toy - with a pair of scissors, some paper clips and a large Christmas card, you can create a paper sphere that will keep your cat busy for hours. 

4. Keep them on-hand for kids craft projects - if the paper quality for your Christmas cards is decent, your cards will make for great construction paper.