Embracing Winter

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Poor winter gets such a bad rep. While we certainly are no strangers to a seasonal slump, we’re also all about embracing this time of year to basque in the good things it has to offer. This winter has been slightly warmer than usual, but we’re New Englanders – so we’re ready for you, harsh, cold February.

We’re both pretty active people through out the year, whether it’s being physically active or socially active, but we tend to slow down a bit during the winter months. While we do love the mini hibernation mode, that’s when we start to really feel the cold, darkness that New England winters are known for. We’ve decided to embrace winter this year and have the best winter yet. Reg is going on a work ski/snowboarding trip this weekend and Christa has been bundling up and taking walks at the reservoir even when it’s a tad chillier than she’d like!

Here are our favorite ways to take advantage of winter weather:

Cook and bake
Put on your favorite movie in the background, or a new album you’ve been wanting to listen to (ps. the new Childish Gaminbo is great, and people are loving the new XX album), and try that new recipe you’ve been eying!

Host
Having people over is always fun! We know it can be a little bit of work, but it can be as simple as hosting a movie night where people bring over their favorite movie watching treats, or having a potluck so you’re not the only one on the hook for food. Plus, what a good excuse to tidy up the house 😉

Winter walks and sports
As we mentioned above, Reg is getting back on the snowboarding-saddle after a couple years to go on a work ski trip, and as you probably saw on instagram, Christa was recently in Colorado for some skiing. Finding an outdoor winter activity is fantastic! Of course the first couple minutes of being outside in the cold, you are asking yourself, “why did I do this?!”, but from our experiences, we always feel amazing after!

Studio exercise classes
BUT, if you really, really hate the cold, you can be just as active inside! Reg loves yoga and Christa plays indoor soccer once a week, but it could be as simple as just warming up at the gym (we’re both loving the Nike+ Training app.)

Reading and writing
This is always one of our New Years Resolutions, because once things get busy, the lovely leisurely activity of reading and writing tends to get pushed aside. We’re going to try our best to keep this going, especially during the chilly months. Curl up in bed, on the couch or at a cozy coffee shop and dive into a new world. Christa is currently reading H is for Hawk, and Reg is searching for something great – any suggestions?!

Movies
Guys, this is *literally* the best time of year for movie watching! The Oscars are right around the corner and the last couple months have been filled with fantastic movies. We both saw Manchester by the SeaArrival and La La Land. Reg saw Nocturnal Animals, and Christa saw Loving, and we both still want to see Jackie and Moonlight.

Burn candles, incense and simmer pots
We’re big components of this (we’ve mentioned it a couple times here on the blog!) super easy mood setting tactic. Reg makes a mean simmer pot that really cozies up the house. Hoping to have a post on that someday! 🙂

Meditate and color
As mentioned in last week’s post, the better you feel, the better you’ll be equipped to handle the New England winter.

Make art
Do it! Any kind of art! Draw, doodle, knit, craft, sing, write. While you’re stuck inside, take that time to express yourself a bit – even if it’s for your eyes only.

Museums
We unfortunately forget what wonderful museums we have right at our doorstep. Christa has easy access to the Wadsworth Athenaeum, the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Hill-Stead Museum, the Mark Twain House, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and many many more. And with Reg in Boston…it’s endless! Her favorites are the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Pamper yourself
When you’re feeling frumpy from endless bundling up – why not treat yo’self! Get (or do your own) mani/pedi, get a massage, get that haircut you’ve been dreaming of. As we mentioned before, the better you feel, the better winter will feel!

Puzzles and games
And last, but not least, play some games! Reg has been loving putting together puzzles, and Christa and Curtis have friends over all the time to play board games. They’re a lovely way to spend an afternoon with friends.


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Espresso Peppermint Brownies

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If there’s one weakness I have, it’s dense delicious fudgy brownies. And in case you didn’t know, Dec. 8th is National Brownie Day, so we decided to pay our tribute. This recipe is pretty much as simple as homemade brownies get, and most certainly a crowd pleaser.


For the brownies:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • eggs, lightly whisked
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)

For the topping:

  • 4 large candy canes

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 and set aside an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper.

In a heat-safe bowl, combine 1 cup of your chocolate chips (save the rest to add to the batter), butter, and oil, and place over a small pot of boiling water.

Once fully melted and slightly cooled, combine in a stand (or hand) mixer with your sugars. Mix well, then add espresso, vanilla, and eggs. Add your flour and salt mixture and blend until just mixed. Fold in your chocolate chips.

Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

While baking, prepare your peppermint topping. *Warning, this part is loud*

Place your candy canes into a plastic baggie, removing the air, and adding into a second baggie. With a rolling pin or hammer, gently break your candy into pieces.

Once your brownies have five minutes left in the oven, remove and sprinkle on the candy. Place back in the oven and finish baking.


Recipe adapted from Food 52

Pecan Pumpkin Muffins

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One of the first homemade goods I remember my Mom making me as a kid was pumpkin bread. I always looked forward to her whipping it up, and it became one of the first things I learned how to bake once I was old enough. Call me basic all you want, but I’ve been loving myself some pumpkin spice since 1993, okay??

While this recipe isn’t my Mom’s (I don’t know if that woman has ever made the same thing twice), it’s still wonderful and always reminds me of home.

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FOR THE MUFFINS
1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, unpacked
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin-pie filling)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

FOR THE STREUSEL
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, unpacked
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick oats

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TO MAKE
Preheat
oven to 350. To begin the muffin batter, use a stand mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer) to combine the canned pumpkin, white & brown sugars, and vanilla. Blend until thoroughly combined. Add one egg, mix, add second egg, mix, then slowly add in the oil.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Slowly add the dry mixture into the pumpkin blend until just combined. Fold in the pecans and set aside.

To make the streusel, mix the butter and sugar together. Once combined, slowly add in the flour and oats. The mixture will be crumbly, but not completely dry. It should be a pale brown, and you don’t want to see the white of the flour.

Using two spoons, scoop the pumpkin batter into a lined or greased muffin pan. It should make 12 medium-sized muffins. Sprinkle the streusel onto the muffins until the tops are just covered.

Bake for 24-26 minutes. Poke the center of a muffin with a knife or toothpick to check if done. If the knife or toothpick come out clean, you’re ready to take out of the oven.

Set aside for 15 minutes, then enjoy with a piping hot cup of coffee.


Recipe adapted from Skinny Taste

Happy Weekend!

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{Image and recipe via The Everygirl}

Morning all! Not sure about you guys, but we are so ready for this weekend to get started. This week felt extra long, probably because the weather was beautiful and we were cooped up indoors. Hope you all have a great couple of days, see you on Monday!

cct // I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds…How To Take A Six-Month Sabbatical In Paris – what an adventure!

rkv // Loving this print on Society 6, thinking about getting one for my new bedroom

cct // 12 Ladylike Responses To The Most Annoying Things Said To Women – LOL

rkv // Because why not? 5 tips for crafting a brilliant resume

cct // We joke about this with our friends, but these friends actually created a community living area with awesomely designed houses, one big kitchen house and lots of land. This is definitely on my list of things to do in the future!

rkv // 20 signs you may actually be addicted to your phone, according to science

cct // Gorgeous Skin Tips From People Who Sweat For a Living

rkv // Om nom nom coconut quick bread

1 Shelf, 3 Ways

Happy Monday, loves! Hope you all had a nice weekend and were able to relax a bit!

Recently in the blog hemisphere we’ve been noticing a whole lot of posts for “one item, several ways,” be if for clothing or decor. In particular, one of our favorite little lady designers, Emily Henderson, has been all about showcasing a staple piece styled four ways, like with this credenza. We were feeling inspired by her ideas and decided to give it a go!

Below is a ladder shelf that I picked up from good ‘ol Walmart a couple of years ago to add a little more storage to my tiny kitchen — it’s proven to be very helpful for the bits and bobbles that we’ve run out of room for. We decided to give it three key looks that could work for your kitchen — the bar, a baking station, and the miscellaneous items.

Shelf: 

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With a big blank slate like this, it’s all about the layering. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to pretty little trinkets, so the layering thing was pretty easy to accomplish. 🙂

01. Baking

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The great thing about this ladder shelf is that it has some room for over sized items like mixing bowls and baskets, as well as the tiny knickknacks like butter dishes and mixing cups. Another crucial component to styling this guy was height and greenery. Cutting boards and vases are a great way to give the shelf the height you’re looking for, and some big leafy plants look awesome in mason jars, like this dried eucalyptus.

When making a baking station, you’ll definitely need your essentials. Hide your flours and sugars in pretty canisters, while tucking away baking powder and such in baskets. Showcase some of your fancier items like your good vanilla, and don’t be afraid to display items with some character, as we did with the aged baking pans. We also draped an apron over the edge of the shelf for a little bit of flair.

02. Bar

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This is a fun one to set up, because it makes you feel like an actual *gasp* adult. We’ve collected some pretty old empties for our top row, but it definitely would feel a little more impactful if you have an actual collection to show off. Throw in some of your good liquors, as well as the tools you’ll be needing, like openers, shakers, napkins, and glasses. We also made things colorful with a bowl filled with essential citrus fruits, and an aloe plant for a pop of green.

03. Everyday 

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So this is helpful if you’re kitchen is like mine, with a whole lot of little things in need of a home. Pots and pans will stack nicely on the bottom, as well as linens and cookbooks. Display your favorite tea boxes and layer with nice cutting boards. It’s great for the random things you have lying around, like my scallion-growing science project, and Christmas gifts from Christa like a DIY cheese-making kit.

Hope these looks were helpful for you guys, and you’re feeling inspired to get a head start on the spring cleaning! If you liked any of the above items, check out below to see where we got some of the key pieces!

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Look 1:
cutting boards, Home Goods
porcelain milk dish, H&M
fox cookie jar, Target
cake stand, Home Goods
cookbooks, Anthropologie & vintage
red canisters & utensil holder, vintage
flour canister & dish towels, IKEA
wire baskets, Pier 1

Look 2:
cocktail shakers, vintage and Crate & Barrel
brass bottle opener, vintage
copper mugs, Sur La Table
etched highball glasses, Anthropologie
deer antler, vintage
porcelain juicer, West Elm

Look 3:
DIY mozzarella kit, Etsy
garlic bowl, H&M
fruit bowl, handmade
etched glasses, cutting boards, baskets (see above)


Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

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November is shaping up to be one of my busiest birthday months, but I’m feeling prepared with the recipe for this delicious cake. My aunt Grace made it over the summer for our family reunion and we were all emailing her begging for the recipe!

The instructions for this decadent cake are as follows…

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
(original recipe from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles)

// Chocolate Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
6 T. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup olive oil
2 T. vinegar
2 cups cold water
2 tsp. vanilla

01. Preheat oven to 350°.

02. Prepare two 9″ round cake pans. Grease the pans well, making sure you cover the entire interior surface. Cut two pieces of wax paper and fit one inside of each pan. Set aside.

03. Measure all dry ingredients into bowl and whisk to combine. Make 3 large holes in the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil and vinegar. Pour this into the 3 holes. Pour the water over entire mixture. Mix with a fork. Add vanilla and stir. Divide evenly into the two cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, removing from the oven as soon as a toothpick comes out clean. Let cakes cool in their pans on a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Then run a thin knife around the edge of each pan and invert the cakes onto your rack to cool. Let cool completely before assembling.

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// Peanut Butter Frosting

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
8 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2  tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar

Place the peanut butter, butter, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-low speed, just until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining ingredients and combine again. Then turn the speed up to high and beat for 2 to 3 more minutes, until frosting is light, airy, and fluffy.

// Chocolate Frosting 

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 T. unsalted butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix milk and sugar in small saucepan. Add butter. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then remove pan from heat. Add chocolate chips to the pan. Using wire whisk, mix until smooth.

// Assembly

*Additional ingredient needed: 10 to 12 small peanut butter cups*

Place one chocolate cake on a plate or platter. Using a spatula, apply a thick, even layer of peanut butter frosting on top of the cake. Place the second layer of chocolate cake on top of the layer of peanut butter frosting. If needed, fill in the frosting gap between the cake layers with an additional piping of frosting, somewhat “smooshing” it in as you go around the cake, to give a flattened look. If you already have enough frosting bulging out from between the cake layers, simply “flatten” it out by running the long side of an offset spatula or knife carefully around the cake’s side, flattening the frosting as you go.

Give your chocolate frosting a good whisking, making sure that it’s smooth and spreadable. You want your frosting to be a bit warm so it has the right consistency for spreading. If it’s too hot, it will spread too quickly, and possibly run off the sides of your cake, so let it cool a bit. Pour the frosting onto the center of the cake and then gently swirl it to the outside perimeter. Let the chocolate frosting set for about 30 minutes before adding the peanut butter circles on top.

Once the chocolate frosting is set, pipe 10 to 12 circles of peanut butter frosting onto the top perimeter of the cake. Then top each circle with a small peanut butter cup.

gm_ChocolatePeanutButterCake_3And enjoy 🙂

 

Honey Pot Hill Orchards

This past Saturday my galpals and I were full throttle New Englanders when we went apple picking at Honey Pot Hill Orchards. It was the last weekend that this farm would be open for picking, and basically a perfectly crisp and sunny fall day, so it was slight mayhem. So many children. So many squished apples under our feet. And so soo many times we were nearly hit by the hayrides (we apparently couldn’t tell the difference between walking paths and hayride paths).

I live with three other ladies, and we all love ourselves some apples, so we thought “yeah! Let’s get the big bag!” No. In retrospect, that was an overzealous decision on our end. We wound up having to swap who carried the bag every four minutes, with apples falling all over the ground, and eventually putting in the large Ann Taylor Loft shopping bag that we found in the car trunk. That bag is full, and now sitting on our kitchen floor because we have no where else to put it. Apparently I’m gonna have to make a lot more than the one muffin recipe I had planned out for this endeavor (I have this apple bacon brussels sprout guy in mind).

And then donuts happened. Oh my word did donuts happen. Probably the best donuts I’ve ever consumed. Pretty much just perfect in every way… warm, soft of the inside and crispy on the outside, with a cinnamon sugar coating. I shall dream of these donuts and tell stories of their wonderment.

 

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Happy Weekend!

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{image via}

Tomorrow is the OFFICIAL first day of summer friends, how exciting is that! We’ve been experiencing the heat already, but it will feel good to bump it up into summer full time (aka more beach and BBQs). This weekend’s weather looks promising, so before you head out to enjoy it, make sure to check out our Friday links!
xo G&M

cct // Speaking of summer, I guess that means it’s officially bikini season, ugh. I definitely need to fit in some cardio, but I can get down with these exercises for now.

rkv // Eek! I have 23 days until my first 10k ever, and I’m freakin’ a bit. I’m a bit behind on my training, but found these race do’s and don’ts refreshing!

cct // My boss made these amazing sounding cupcakes and I need to try them asap!

rkv // Lately I’ve been loving myself some green goddess dressing— it adds just the right amount of flavor to a dish, while being low in fat (the bad kind, that is). This recipe looks super scrumptious!

cct // We had a photo shoot yesterday (for the new Hartford Prints! website) with Victoria Gloria Photography, and here is a sneak peek – such gorgeous shots! (don’t mind my odd hip pop in the first pic, I don’t think I’m usually that wide??)

rkv // I’m feeling on this technique for beach-wave hair – I think the backcombing is key!

cct // These movies are 10 years old?! Woah…

rkv // I saw this and thought it looked like Christa’s dream snack (*um YES!)

 Have a lovely weekend!

Gorgeous Birthday Cakes

With an upcoming birthday tomorrow (hint, it’s Reg’s!), we’ve got cake on the brain! While we dabble in baking, coming up with a beautiful and creative cake is harder than it looks… we make homely cakes. But today we’re gonna admire the beautiful cakes of others and hope that someday we have the courage to attempt something this gorgeous.

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// Classic Ice Cream Cake 

50b8f3bbabe10d535d8a2f6a32725940// Oreo Olallieberry Chocolate Layer Cake

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// Inside-out S’mores Cake

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// Brown Butter Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing and Salted Caramel

carrotcake

// Carrot Cake with Cardamom

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// Malted Milk Cake

 

And we can’t forget the cupcakes!…

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// Peaches & Cream Oat Cupcakes

Cinnamon and Orange Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting1

// Orange Cinnamon Cupcakes

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// Blueberry Preserve Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies

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It should come as no surprise by now that Christa and I both have a serious sweet tooth, so any time I can put a healthy spin a baked treat without sacrificing taste, I’m in. This past weekend was terribly grey and rainy in Boston, so I cuddled up to watch Gossip Girl on Netflix (zero shame) and made these paleo/gluten free cookies. My roommate had one before I could tell her that they were healthy(ish), and she didn’t believe me. No butter or flour? No. Freaking. Way.

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You’ll need:

1 cup of unsalted creamy almond butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

 

To make:

01. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

02. In a medium sized bowl (or stand mixer) add almond butter. Stir in the sugar, baking soda, salt and vanilla until combined.

03. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs together. Add to almond mix until thoroughly blended. Turn mixer off and fold in chocolate chips/chunks.

04. Measure 2 packed tablespoons per cookie and place on parchment paper. Leave about 2 1/2 inches in between each cookie, because they spread very wide. This should leave six cookies per sheet.

05. Bake for 10-14 minutes. The less time, the chewier (but also more pale). Allow to cool about 5 minutes before moving to a drying rack.

06. Sit down with a glass of milk, dip, and watch Gossip Girl.

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Recipe via

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rkv