Life Lately- November

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I am officially a resident of Philadelphia! Well, I still have my CA driver's license, and as far as work is concerned, I'm all over the place, but my stuff is in a house in Philadelphia, therefore, it counts. 
I have been here for almost 3 weeks and I'm slowly settling in. I must say, the first week or so was difficult. It was more of a shock than I realized it would be, and about midway through the flight to Philly, I panicked and it hit me. It wasn't the "what am I doing?" kind of panic, it was the "this is really happening" kind. I had been so busy the last few weeks before my move, selling things on craigslist, wrapping up things in California, that I hadn't really dealt with just how big of a life change this was going to be. I was leaving my family, moving clear across the country to a state I've never lived in (I've never lived on the east coast), and it was just coming down on me. I got a little teary on the plane and the first week of being here was tough. I was edgy and anxious and kind of just a mess. Bret has helped tremendously and I'm starting to feel a LOT better. I've been getting the house organized (although we have a long way to go) and I think feeling more organized and getting into a routine is helping me feel more settled. 
getting there- those bare walls though... 

I wanted to build some shelving units to go on both sides of the TV since this room is large and open. After poking around at a few different plans online, Bret and I came up with our own plan for an industrial looking wooden shelf. We had a few hiccups but I think it turned out pretty well. Most of the plans I was seeing online were wanting to anchor the unit into the wall, and I really wanted everything to be freestanding so that we could move them easily. 

I have been working on a few other little DIY projects, like these pots for the shelves and this cabinet (below) that Bret bought at an antique store that was SO ugly. The finish was coming off, it was dingy looking and definitely needed a little TLC, but it wasn't a complete throw away. I popped over to Home Depot and found a dark navy paint and now it lives in our guest room. It turned out so great and looks a thousand times better. 


Here are those little pots for the shelves. i bought them at Ikea and taped them off to paint them white. After that, just a little black speckle paint (hello, 1990's) and voila! 

I will post pictures of the rest of the house once I actually get around to getting everything finished. 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bret's mom brought me a huge box (3 pounds!) of apples from her orchard, and I was so excited, I had to hop on Pinterest to find a few new apple recipes. It just happened to be my dad's birthday on Monday and his favorite pie is Apple, so I figured I'd make him a pie and try out a new recipe. My mom made him a carrot cake as well, so he was doubly spoiled with desserts for his birthday. 

I found this fantastic recipe on Pinterest for a Caramel Apple Pie from the blog Sally's Baking Addiction and decided to give it a try. I hadn't ever made a caramel apple pie, but I'm a sucker for caramel (especially homemade, yum). The recipe was pretty easy, however, it was VERY time consuming. I think from start to finish, it took me about 3 hours. 

I made the caramel from scratch and it was so simple- it would be great to make and keep in the fridge for ice cream or other desserts. The lattice crust was obviously my biggest challenge (and biggest fail on this pie- whoops) and looks pretty messy, but don't let that deceive you- it tasted great!


Basic Pie Dough

2 and 1/2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)

1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt

6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

3/4 cup (154g) vegetable shortening, chilled1

1/2 cup (120ml) ice water


homemade salted caramel sauce (recipe below)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice

6 large apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced2 (approx 10-12 cups total - use a variety for better flavor, such as Pink Lady, Granny Smith, or Honey Crisp)

1/4 cup (31g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

1 large egg, beaten

coarse sugar for topping


  1. Read all of the directions that I wrote in this post before beginning the following recipe. It will help you!
  2. Make the crust first: Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal (pea-sized bits with a few larger bits of fat is OK). Drizzle the cold water in, 1 Tablespoon (15ml) at a time, and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon after every Tablespoon (15ml) added. Do not add any more water than you need to. Stop adding water when the dough begins to form large clumps. I always use between 1/3 cup (75ml) and 1/2 cup (120ml) of water. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and, using your hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats. The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky. Form into a ball. Divide in half, then flatten each into a 1-inch disk and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. For a visual guide to making this crust, see my step-by-step photos.
  3. Make the caramel using my step-by-step photos as a visual guide. Do this as you wait for the dough to chill.
  4. Next, make the apple filling as the dough is still chilling: Put the lemon zest and lemon juice into a very large bowl. Add the apples and toss gently. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. Pour over the apples and gently toss to combine. Set aside.
  5. Roll out the chilled pie dough: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9x2 inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. With a small and sharp knife, trim the extra overhang of crust and discard.
  6. Fill the pie crust with the apples. There are a lot of apples, but pile them tightly and very high. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the salted caramel, reserving the rest for topping.
  7. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
  8. Make the lattice crust: Remove the other disc of chilled pie dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough out, 12 inches diameter. Using a pastry wheel, sharp knife, or pizza cutter, cut 16 strips 1/2 inch wide. I always use a clean measuring tape or ruler as a guide to assure the lines are straight. Carefully thread the strips over and under one another, pulling back strips as necessary to weave. Using a small and sharp knife, trim the extra overhang. Clamp down the edges of the dough with a fork or your fingers.
  9. Brush the lattice top with the beaten egg. A very thin coating - you don't want scrambled eggs on top of your dough. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  10. Place the pie onto a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Keeping the pie in the oven, turn the temperature down to 375°F (190°C) and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes. If the top of your pie is getting too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil. The pie will be done when the caramel begins to bubble up. A small knife inserted inside should come out relatively clean.
  11. Allow the pie to cool for 4 hours before serving. Drizzle the pie with the extra caramel sauce to serve. This apple pie is best served on the same day, but it can be covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  12. Make ahead tip: The pie crust dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. Baked pie freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Salted Caramel Sauce


1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

6 Tablespoons (90g) salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces

1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  2. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
  3. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
  4. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
  6. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
  8. Make ahead tip: You can make this caramel in advance. Make sure it is covered tightly and store it for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe. This caramel is OK at room temperature for a day if you're traveling or gifting it.

Spinster, a Book Review

Monday, October 5, 2015

To be honest, I was struggling to get through this one, and I rarely struggle to get through a book. I chose Spinster for my latest Blogging for Books read and I should have probably stuck to my usual cook book selection, which I enjoy. 

This book was a bit slow. Kate Bolick has some great stories that are relateable to most 20-somethings who have navigated the single life, however, it kept reverting back to unknown literary women from history. I can appreciate her trying to create a theme and draw a parallel between her experience with men, dating, her career, family and life with the (famous?) women of history, but it just did not work. I wanted to be drawn into the book and get that "I just can't put it down!" feeling, but I kept putting it down. And then it just stayed down. 

It felt scattered and not organized well. I really wanted to like this book, I liked the background and hoped I could relate, as a 20-something, who is not any longer single, but did have a period where I wanted to look back and think "oh yeah, me too, sister!". 

I think there are too many other good books on the market to waste time on this one. Disappointed. 

Fall Changes

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It seems like everyone looks forward to Fall because of what it represents, and no I'm not talking about Starbucks bringing back the pumpkin spice latte. I'm talking about the fresh start, the changing weather, the coming of the holidays, school starting back up, new routines. I personally love fall, mostly because it means no more 90+ days in NorCal anymore and we get to break out the cuter of the yearly wardrobes, if you ask me. 

This year is bringing another really big change in my life, and I couldn't be more ready or more excited. But first, New York!

Bret and I met my parents and aunt in NYC 2 weeks ago for the long weekend, and we had a blast. It was my parents' first time in NY and they basically wanted to cover a week's worth of tourist activities in 3 days, so we did just that. Everything you can think of: Empire State Building, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial and museum, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Times Square, The Village, Museum of Natural History, Central Park (and Tavern on the Green), riding the subway and we ate at SO many great restaurants.   

We ended up walking about 20 miles the whole 3 days which was crazy, but we got to see everything we sought out to see, and I think my parents were happy. The weather was nice and only slightly muggy, and there weren't as many tourists as usual since it was Labor Day, which is more than I can ask for. I am looking forward to visiting NY again with Bret around the holidays. 

So now about that big change... 

I will be moving to Philadelphia in about 3 weeks! I couldn't be more excited to start this new adventure. Obviously, Bret's job has him in Philadelphia for a few more years, and after that, who knows where we will be, but we will be doing it together. I am very much looking forward to spending less time flying across the country (I will still be traveling for work and to visit my family) but am SO ready for the next chapter in our lives. 

Life Lately

Monday, August 31, 2015

Where has the summer gone? I can't believe that we are at the end of August. It has been forever since I've blogged about anything, but I thought I'd pop in and let you know that I am still alive. I guess I've been busy, but more than anything, I've just been enjoying the break from the blog. Sometimes you just need to step back and not feel the pressure to show up everyday. 

Here are a few little snips into the last few months. 

Bosley and I have been taking advantage of the pool. Sometimes it can be a challenge to swim together because he doesn't understand that I'm not having fun when he's digging his claws into me trying to get a grip in the pool. This dog would live in the pool if he could. 

I went to Minneapolis to visit a girlfriend who I haven't seen in about a year and I've missed her so much. We met when we were both living in Seattle and about the same time that I moved back to SF, she moved back to Minneapolis. We talk often and I'm so glad that we found a weekend that I could visit. I'd never been to Minneapolis and we had a great weekend! We tried a few restaurants that were great and walked around the lake and just relaxed. On Sunday, we met up with some of her friends to go out on their boat on Lake Minnetonka. We spent the day cruising around the lake, looking at the gorgeous houses and enjoying the beautiful weather. I am already looking forward to the next visit! 

Kedzie and I had our annual Tahoe weekend and spent most of it doing exactly this. Floating on the lake and relaxing. We were both exhausted from busy weeks prior, so instead of the crazy adventuring that I thought we'd be doing, we were both happy just relaxing and taking it easy and enjoying Tahoe. 

I did the beer bike downtown for the first time and it was so fun! You can't actually drink ON the bike, but the bike drops you off at a few bars around town for about an hour each and then you hop back on and cruise around town to the next bar. Great idea for a birthday party!

Bret and I celebrated one year! I can't believe how quickly the time has gone by but this year has been amazing and it has been so great being able to spend so much time together and figure out this whole long distance thing. I'd say we have it down and honestly, I'd still make the same decision because it is so worth it. This guy. He has my heart. 

I'm in Philly for the next 2 weeks and this weekend we are meeting my parents and aunt in NYC for a fun weekend of playing tourist! I can't wait!

Twenty Dinners:Duck Breast with Cauliflower Puree

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

On Sunday, Bret and I wandered over to Redding Terminal Market in Philly to poke around and get my favorite turkey and cranberry sandwiches (hey, it was my birthday!). 
We had been thumbing threw my new cookbook, Twenty Dinners, this week, looking for a recipe to try and when we saw the duck breast recipe, although we had both never tried to cook duck breasts, decided to give it a shot. I love ordering duck in a restaurant and wanted to learn to make this succulent dish at home. 
We started with two large duck breasts, scored them and then placed them in a cold pan, skin side down, and turned it on a medium heat. You are supposed to use a cast iron pan, but a regular skillet worked just fine. We seasoned the breasts with S&P and then as the fat started to render off, we spooned it into a jar and saved that amazing stuff for cooking with later! 
I started the cauliflower puree and let me tell you, it was SO easy. I threw a few sprigs of thyme, about 5 cloves of garlic, some peppercorns, heavy cream and milk and the cauliflower, chopped up, into a pot and brought it to a slow boil and then reduced to a simmer. When that was done, and the cauliflower was tender, I put the cauliflower and just a SMALL amount of the cooking liquid into a blender and blended it so that it was about as thick as loose mashed potatoes. You don't want this puree too thin. I also tossed some more S&P and about 4 of the cooked garlic cloves in and gave it another spin. Delicious.
Once the duck fat had rendered off and the skin side was golden brown, we took the breasts out of the pan, cleaned the pan out, added a tsp of butter, about 2 tbsp of thyme and crushed garlic cloves and cooked the duck breast skin side up for another few minutes. 
Serve the duck over the cauliflower puree with another side veggie and voila! A fancy mid-week dinner that only took about 30 minutes total and felt like a restaurant quality dish. 
Recipes Here:
Twenty Dinners is a great cookbook. It has a very rustic, farm to table feel, but doesn't feel overwhelming as far as the skill needed to make these recipes go. The book includes recipes for drinks, tips on how to stock your home bar, etc. The recipes are creative and include things that you wouldn't normally think to make. I really enjoy the diversity in ingredients that makes me want to try things that I might not normally try or not even know how to prepare a certain ingredient. 
The book is gorgeous. It is heavy and the pictures are beautiful. This would be a great cookbook to try if you are hosting a dinner party or just want to have a date night in and try to make something of the same quality that you could order in a restaurant, for half the price. 

Birthday Weekend- Philly

Monday, June 15, 2015

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday in Philly with Bret and it was AMAZING. I've never been a huge "omg, look at me, it's my birthday!" kind of person, but Bret really went the distance to make this one special. I appreciate him so much and it was so sweet of him to make a big deal of my birthday for me. 
On Thursday and Friday nights, we went to dinner and drinks with friends, since another friend had a birthday on Friday. A friend of ours, who bakes wedding cakes for a living, made us thee most delicious chocolate macadamia cake with chocolate ganache frosting. It was absolutely to die for and the whole thing was gone the next day. (In our defense, we did give a piece to our server, so technically we didn't eat the whole cake). 
In case you were wondering, we did find a way to eat that chocolate frosting cone on top. 

I knew Bret had a surprise planned for Saturday night, but I wasn't sure what was going on. Friday after work, he told me what it was so that I could plan what to wear and get excited. 
Excited was an understatement. 
T-Swift concert in Philly! 

Her show was absolutely amazing. When you walked into the stadium, they were handing out these funny looking white silicone wristbands and no one could figure out what they were for. 
As soon as the music started, the wrist bands lit up to the beat of the music and changed colors each song. It was incredible. The whole stadium was lit up, all the way to the nosebleeds. 

Her performance was great and she played all of her new songs as well as a few older ones. Bret hates to admit it but he was loving it. 

Also, we had to go get a beer and a giant pretzel at Frankford Hall before the show. This is an absolute requirement every time I'm in Philly. 

Sunday, my actual birthday, we headed over to Redding Terminal Market and picked up some veggies and duck breasts (fannnccyyy) to make for dinner this week. Keep an eye out for that recipe. 
We also saw Jurrasic World and it was actually pretty darn good. As hard as it is to recreate something so good as Jurrasic Park, this movie was entertaining and had a good story line. 

Our final birthday adventure was dinner at Parc, in Rittenhouse Square. This is a restaurant that I've been wanting to try for a while now, but it is pretty tricky to get reservations on short notice. What an amazing place! The food was fantastic and the decor was perfect for a French cafe (and the restaurant was huge, surprisingly). 
The perfect end to the best birthday. 
It is going to be a big year.