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Last night we hosted a little dinner party. I made this simple centerpiece that was inexpensive and super festive. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A table runner
  • White or red bouquet of flowers
  • Small votive holders & small glass vases
  • Tealight candles
  • Fresh pine tree clippings

The whole spread cost less that $10 dollars. I went to our neighborhood hardware store and asked if they had any Christmas tree clippings lying around, they pointed me in the direction of a huge bin and offered me as much as I wanted for free! I can’t wait to get a bunch next year and make wreaths and garland for our mantle!

Begin by laying down your runner. This gives you a good guide as well as keeps any sap from dripping on your table. Next arrange the stems in an even layer on the runner, adding enough so to not leave any gaps. I had a pair of clippers on hand to trim some branches off and keep it straight.

After that arrange your flowers into a few separate vases. I bought one bouquet from Trader Joe’s and divided it up into the three. I like the look a smaller simpler arrangements rather than huge gaudy elaborate ones. Nestle the flowers along with the candles around the greenery.

Images: sammyw

We started the weekend off right, with the best blueberry buttermilk pancakes ever. They tasted even better after sleeping in past 9am.

I’ve been making the same chocolate chip cookie recipe for years, so long in fact, I can make the recipe completely from memory. But this weekend I tried a new recipe and I’m so happy with the results. The best part was the little sprinkle of sea salt on top before sticking them in the oven.

We started putting together a dresser for the baby room, can’t wait to put everything in its place.

Speaking of baby, I’m surely growing one. My belly is getting rather large at 26 weeks.

To finish off the weekend, we hosted a Super Bowl party at our place, complete with it’s very own nacho bar. I made my mom’s tried and true re-fried beans recipe.

The weather this weekend was pretty epic, upper 60’s Saturday and in the 70’s on Sunday. We walked to church and didn’t even need a sweater, it was indeed a wonderful weekend!

Images: sammyw

And then just like that it’s over. Over are the twinkling lights, the boxes with pretty bows, the family snuggles. Gone just like that. We took down our Christmas tree this week, which always makes Isaac a little sentimental about the previous year. After hauling our six foot tree down two flights of stairs and sweeping up a huge trail of old brown pine needles, we snuggled on the couch and talked about the year behind us, the year ahead. To which we both squilled in excitement for the arrival of our daughter Paige in just a few short months:

I love the New Year, excited to clean, simplify, and purge. (Hence the new blog format. Don’t get used to it. It was a pull the trigger kinda move. It will probably continue to morph. I am not diggin’ the orange font color.) Add to the fact that this year I’m supposedly in a nesting phase, this apartment better watch out. As you know we live in a small 2 bedroom apartment in San Francisco. Recently I’ve been working on moving the office into our room to make room the baby. Each room we decided, will have to serve double duty, our room plus space for an office, and the baby room will also function as a guest room. This week also marked the first purchase for her room:

With the New Year comes the all familiar normalcy of the everyday. The routine of bills, piles of laundry, rainy walks, crowded bus rides and taking out the trash. Out with the glitz and glamour of Christmas parties with open bars and sequined dressed women, now to the sweet comfort of life. This return to normalcy brings with it simple weeknight dinners and even simpler breakfasts of cold cereal and juice.

Instead of  being creative about hunting down new recipes, I pulled this out from my recipe book and it was all very familiar. In a good worn in comfortable sweater kind of way. This crumb cake has become staple at our house and it does not disappoint. Eat it for breakfast with a big bowl of fruit or have it as a late afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. Or like me nibble a little crumb here or there throughout the day.

New York Crumb Cake
Recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 2 T canola oil, plus more for pan
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 325. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. (It will not seem like a lot of batter, but trust me it rises.) In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.  Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.  Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Images: sammyw

We have had quite an eventful past couple of weeks. Isaac has been busy like crazy on a work deadline. To help the team at work celebrate meeting the accomplished deadline, I showed up Monday with these warm homemade cinnamon rolls to help begin the celebration. This is a tried and true recipe that has never failed me. Here’s the recipe.

Also, I had a midwife appointment where we heard our little one’s heartbeat for the first time. Best. Sound. Ever. We are both beyond thrilled and at 16 weeks along I am feeling great. Last week, I decorated our mantle and couldn’t help but think next Christmas there will be three stockings hanging from our fireplace. Can’t wait!

Images: sammyw

It’s good to be back home. Home is always there to greet you when you walk up the steps to the door. It’s always predictable, always ready for a cozy up on that couch, a snuggle with a good book and a cup of tea. I love being home.

Isaac & I spent a long weekend atop horses, late nights chatting on the porch, witnessing his sister marry and dancing the night away. It was a precious weekend, here are a couple memories from the past few days.

A sweet weekend, but I missed my chef knife, my pots and bowls. I’m inspired and ready to get into the kitchen. See you in a couple days with some recipes :)

Images: sammyw

I learned the concept of menu planning when I was a young girl. I watched my mother jot down dinner ideas, browse her recipe binders, survey the pantry, freezer & fridge for ideas. Now years later, I get the joy of preparing the meals in our home. Here are a couple of suggestions if you’re looking to begin a weekly menu plan:

1. Have a set time/place to plan. Creating a routine is a good way to ensure you’ll stick to it months down the road. For me, it’s usually Tuesday afternoon. I can expect my grocery stores weekly ads to be in my mailbox Monday or Tuesday for the beginning sales on Wednesday.

2. Know your kitchen. Like my mom taught me, know what you have in your cupboards, freezer and fridge. I always check the fridge for items that are a little past their prime or about to expire. This will allow you to save money as well as clear out the fridge to allow room for the weeks groceries.

3. Browse the weekly ads. Stores like Safeway deliver a weekly sale ad to me each week. (If you don’t receive one in the mail, check their website, it’s viewable there!) I always take a look at it for deals and ideas. A couple of weeks ago peaches were on sale so I took the opportunity to make a peach tart. One week avocados, green onions and corn were on sale, so I created a Mexican fiesta around that.

4. Mix it up. We try to limit our meat intake, so for us I plan on eating meat once or twice a week. That gives me some boundaries on what to plan and on which days. Non meat days can consist of a vegetable stir fry one day, broccoli soup & salad the next, or homemade pizza. An easy way to change it up is asking Isaac if there is anything special he’d like for dinner that week. If you have kids, ask them as well; bless them by adding their dinner of choice to the menu. Another way to mix it up is to try new recipes. (search cookbooks, food blogs, ask friends or here) Although, the best way I have found to diversify our dinner table is to shop seasonally. Farmer’s markets are a perfect way to shop within the seasons. Here is a wonderful resource listing all the local produce in your area if you don’t have local farmers markets near you & have to seasonally shop at your grocery store.

5. Traditions. Creating a meal for your family is a real privilege. There is much room for creativity, fun and surprises. A couple of ideas that I incorporate in our home is a fancy dessert every Friday, candlelit dinner just because, occasionally playing music via Pandora, highs & lows (talk about the best part of our day & the worst). Last week I read a quote from Elizabeth Elliot’s Let Me Be a Woman that really encouraged me, ‘The home you make and the atmosphere of that home is the world he comes back to from the world of his work. Let it be a place of beauty and peace.’ I have been trying to put this to wisdom to use in my home and specifically around dinner time, since we eat as soon as Isaac walks through the door. :)

Images: sammyw

If your anything like me, having a clear & organized weekly menu plan makes the week go so much smoother, not to mention cheaper! (no more going out to eat at the last minute!) Usually my weekly meal plan can be found on my crumbled up grocery list lost somewhere in my purse. This adorable menu planner designed by Alma over at Ollibird is exactly what I need to keep me organized. Thank you Alma! Print it off here.

I love the idea of laminating this and using it over and over each week!

It seems I’ve been spending more time with my eye looking through the camera. San Francisco will do that to you, it’s just that unique and beautiful. Slowly California is beginning to feel like home. Comforting and familiar smells have been coming from the kitchen, the voices of family and dear friends have been chatting away at our kitchen table, a routine has begun to develop, a church family has been discovered, and much exploring has been done…

Teeny tiny meatballs ready for their browning.

Saturday morning breakfast for two.

Discovering the 15 limes for a dollar deal at a little Hispanic market in the Mission.

Turning those limes into margaritas 4 nights this week. For the record, my husband makes the best margaritas, ever.

The view outside my kitchen window.

Images: sammyw

While walking around our new hood, we discovered this:

Do not mess with this toddlers ride.

I am loving seeing familes and children riding their bikes, drawing with chalk on our sidewalks around the city, something that barely exists in Seattle. I love SF!

Image: sammyw

Amidst all the rain, I finally feel like Spring is officially here. Which is the reason for all the flower photos in my posts. Sorry but they are seriously everywhere. Pots dotted along storefronts, hanging from baskets along the sidewalks, in little vases on cafe tables, bright pink ones up in the trees, yesterday I even saw a couple little white ones growing in a crack on the sidewalk. With all the water Seattle receives the plants give thanks with flowers. These purple flowers can be seen on our own little window seal, our chive plant in bloom.

With Spring comes open windows, bare arms, fresh produce and spring cleaning in this house. It seems my dear husband has gotten into the Spring cleaning spirit right along with me. He’s been reading David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done which explains the huge shoebox of things to do. The book states you can’t get things done until you’ve cleared your mind, so here in a shoebox is my husbands mind:

While he was emptying his mind, I made these vegetable wraps with some produce I picked up at Trader Joes. They are really light, packed full of fresh veggies and taste so so good.

Vegetable Wraps

  • Whole wheat lavash bread
  • Cream cheese (I used a chive onion blend)
  • English Cucumbers, sliced thin
  • Tomatoes, sliced thin
  • Avocados, sliced thin
  • Red onion, sliced thin
  • lettuce, with the ribs removed
  • leftover cooked chicken, diced really small
  • Salt & pepper

Take a whole lavash bread and spread the cream cheese over the whole thing. Then start layering on the goods. Roll it up and cut in half. Goes great with some sliced apple and peanut butter on the side.

Images: sammyw