Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

How adorable are my little Dora the Explorer and her sidekick monkey, Boots? They are so excited to go trick or treating this evening!


I love seeing all different costumes on Halloween! Everybody from young to old, even the pets, get into the Halloween Spirit. What are you dressing up as?

Here are some fun links to get you motivated, if you aren't already!

Last minute Halloween costumes for kids


Creepy & Cute Halloween Cookies!






...and just for fun, a picture of my Halloween tablescape!


What do you love (or hate) about Halloween?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recipe: Pumpkin Vegetable Potage

My obsession with pumpkin continues...



I was so excited to try this recipe for Pumpkin Vegetable Potage from Blue Apron's site. The prep-work and cooking was fairly easy and low maintenance on the ingredients. Aside from the essentials that you likely have in your fridge & pantry, you need a sugar pumpkin, farro, and a mild, salty cheese like feta.


The smell of toasted farro and toasted pumpkin seeds was so inviting and warm...



We used a plump sugar pumpkin, dressed with lots of salt, pepper and oregano to taste...


Chickpeas and tomoatoes rounded out this yummy stew! This is what makes this dish so hearty, sort of like a chili! 


It was just as delicious, filling and spicy as I had imagined. I loved the crunchy pumpkin seeds, the melting feta, and the toasted farro. We paired this dish with a side of crusty, buttery bread.


This dish was so so good! Try this recipe soon!

Other great ways to use pumpkin here, here and here

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scarves for Fall

Scarves are actually the perfect mom accessory. They can pull double duty as a great nursing cover, or an emergency blanket for a tired tot. There are so many great scarves around this fall... ideal for layering when the day starts out chilly, the sun comes up to make it warm, and then dies down again on your way home from work. Scarves are also the easiest way to look more polished than you feel ;)

Here are some great ones to incorporate into your wardrobe. Aren't they so chic?

Banana Republic Madison Leopard Scarf
Marc by Marc Jacobs Katya Scarf
JCrew Printed Square Scarf
Maison Scotch Star Scarf
I love these little pops of color, especially when my wardrobe starts to feel blah.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Apples!

It's the season for fresh, crunchy apples - and there are so many ways to enjoy them. Apples have the perfect level of sweetness, so they are great to use in baking, but also add a perfect contrast to more savory tastes as well. They can be juiced, chopped or pureed - lending themselves to all sorts of recipes.

Here are 5 creative ways to use your apples this season. We've especially enjoyed the apple-cheddar fondue!

1. Apple-Cheddar Fondue


2. Apple Vinaigrette... this is especially yummy in a salad with blue cheese


3. Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies (I added fresh little chunks of apples into mine)


4. Cinnamon Apple Syrup as a glaze on toast, chicken, or pancakes


5. Smoked Apple Cocktail


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Toddler Fashion

One of the best parts about having 2 girls, is dressing them up! Plus, it's somehow more justifiable to purchase cute outfits for my daughters than for myself.

There are so many stylish, edgy and affordable options for trendy toddlers these days. I love the prices and styles at Joe Fresh for kids. They have infant, toddler and kid sizes from 3 months up, and are available at JCPenney! The clothes are comfy and better in quality than you would expect from the prices... plus, the accessories are adorable!





I'm also loving Zara Mini & Zara Kids lately... with affordable, modern and trendy options for boys, girls and babies! My favorite are the shoes and jackets here... perfect for a budding fashionista.



Lastly, H&M kids is just what you would expect... plus, you can shop online! Love these adorable baby outfits that you can buy guilt-free :)


Kiddie fashion is definitely addictive. Who can say no to a faux-leather jacket or cheetah print jeggings in size 3T? Not me!

I'd love to hear about your favorite brands for stylish tots!



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri




Jhumpa Lahiri is an exquisite, captivating story teller - so it likely won't come as a surprise to hear that The Lowland, her latest novel, is a well written, fascinating and deeply thought provoking book. From a more personal standpoint, I love reading her work because it mimics many of my own experiences as an Indian American. I am intrigued by the ideas of immigration, migration, and adapting to a new culture -- so her themes are right on par with my interests.

The novel focuses on the lives and relationship of two brothers who are close as children, like mirror images to one another. Udayan and Subhash are growing up in Calcutta in the 1950s. Udayan is the younger brother, who “was blind to self-constraints, like an animal incapable of perceiving certain colors. But Subhash strove to minimize his existence, as other animals merged with bark or blades of grass.” As their lives unfold, Subhash goes to the US to pursue science, and Udayan joins a radical group essentially committing terrorism. Tragedy eventually takes hold, and the brothers are reunited in an unexpected way. In the end, this book is about the intimate relationship between siblings, and the cruetly and boredom of an average life. Don't let that scare you away -- Lahiri writes about these characters in a way that will inspire you as well as enrage you!

While Udayan is passionate and radical, his brother is experiencing his own small revolution as he adjusts to life in America. He falls into a marriage with a stranger, and they are formal with each other and lonely together. It is here that Lahiri's prose is a mirror for many immigrants -- as she highlights fears of isolation, the pangs of loneliness, and the identity confusion that often follows such a migration.  Several passages stand out, for example: “Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.” There were many parts of this novel that felt forced and dramatized, many were a bit contrived - but there were plenty others that felt so real, it brought tears to my eyes.

Lahiri expertly switches from India to the US, from tragedy to happiness, in the pages of this novel. The result is an emotional, addictive read. I'm interested to see if this book will win the Booker... there are so many other great books on the shortlist. I'm working on reading them all! Which is your favorite?

In case you missed it, here's my fall reading list.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Blue Apron Meals

Last week, we tried out a new, innovative way to have fancy and delicious meals at home -- Blue Apron. This is a great service in which the ingredients and recipes for 3 meals for two are delivered right to your home, once per week. They even have veggie options!! The ingredients are fresh, and perfectly portioned so there's no running to the store for a last minute item, and there's no excess or waste.



       

Normally, it breaks down to about $10 a plate, but I got a promotion via Rue La La and got the service $5 per plate. I was so excited to give this a try, and was pleased with the result.

The first night, we had Spagetti Squash with a side of Wheatberries and Mustard Greens. This was delicious and seasonal... and I loved that I ended up cookiing with two ingredients I don't usually use - wheatberries and mustard greens. The next night, I made Miso Glazed Eggplant with Green Tea Rice, again being exposed to several ingredients I don't normally keep stocked in my kitchen (Mirin, Miso, Green Tea Powder, Rice Vinegar). Having perfect amounts of these, enough to use in the dishes, was my favorite part about this service.



Lastly, we had Stuffed Artichoke with Chanterelle Mushroom and Pear salad... which was delicious, but somehow not filling enough (much of the artichoke was inedible).



                

The recipes that come along with the fresh ingredients are well laid out, with step-by-step instructions and photo tutorials. Very easy to follow along with, even if you are a beginner in the kitchen! Overall, my favorite was the eggplant dish... the portion was ideal, and it tasted divine.                                        



               


         Would you try something like this?



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Easy Halloween Decor

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays to decorate our house. There are so many fun, creative and spooky options to set the mood. Here are some adorable, easy ideas.

www.costumebox.com

www.pagingfunmums.com
www.goodhousekeeping.com
www.momgenerations.com
www.favecrafts.com
www.designermag.org
www.trendenser.se