Easy Guacamole

A few years ago I discovered the wonderfullness that is guacamole. I didn’t have much exposure to it growing up and typically avoided it because it’s green color and chunky texture. I decided to give it a try at a family gathering on Easter one year and immediately fell in love. I order it every chance I get at Mexican restaurants (and Chipotle!). This is the first time that I actually attempted to make my own. I pulled the ingredients that I like most from various recipes of guacamole that I’ve tasted and decided to just throw it all together. Unfortunately, the avocados I picked up from Giant Eagle weren’t quite ripe enough so I had a little trouble removing the insides from the shell. I don’t think that affected the taste at all, though.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados , pitted and diced
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 roma or stemmed tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a food processor (or buy hand) combine tomato, garlic, corn, onion and cilantro. Spoon out blended mixture
  2. into a small bowl.
  3. Add mashed avocado. Squeeze lime juice over avocado mix.
  4. Mix together and serve with corn or tortilla chips. Salt & pepper to taste.

This recipe is super easy to make depending on whether you decided to chop the veggies with a food processor (creamier texture) or hand-chop (more chunky). I decided to make a chunky guacamole and chopped everything by hand. I actually mashed the avocado by chopping it up, throwing it into a plastic baggie and squeezing and smashing with my hands. After I threw everything together, I just mixed it together with a spoon before serving.

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Patio Inspiration

When I moved into my new apartment, I was most excited about the outdoor space. At our last apartment, we had no private outdoor space so having our own fenced in yard with deck was very appealing. Unfortunately we moved in in November so we haven’t really had too many opportunities to enjoy our deck. We’ve been lucky to have some warm, sunny days in Ohio this spring so I’ve been spending a lot of time (and money) attempting to make our deck more “us” and to purchase things we need to enjoy it fully. One of the first purchases we mad was a grill. I absolutely love grilling out and will do it almost everyday when it’s finally warm enough.

Instead of registry gifts, my mom generously offered to buy us some patio furniture. I had picked out a table and chairs from World Market and they add a pop of color that our deck desperately needed. This past weekend, when it was almost summer-like, Chris and I were able to sit out on our new furniture and eat breakfast. It’s so relaxing to have an outdoor space available right outside your door for you to enjoy whenever you want to. In order to make our deck look a little better, I’ve been browsing Pinterest and other home decor sites to get some inspiration:

I love all the green in this image. I would love to fill my deck and front porch with potted plants of all sorts. I hope to have a nice mix of flowers, vegetables and herbs before our first summer in German Village comes to an end.
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This image is a perfect example of what you can do with a small space. Our deck is relatively small so it’s nice to see that you can create a great space without too much room. I love the color on this patio and the interesting plants.

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Here’s another example of what you can do with a smaller space. I really love the mix of metal with wood and the pops of color. Again, green plants are everywhere, which I love. I hope to acquire more cute dishes that we can use while eating and entertaining outdoors.dining{image source}

In order to put together my perfect outdoor space, here are some essentials:patioess

Threshold Two Tiered Plant Stand, $29.99

Smith & Hawken String Lights, $24.99

Doormat, $16.99

Catalina Chaise Lounger, $199.99

Golden Rod Yellow Cadiz Metal Chairs, Set of 2, $119.98

Aqua Blue Cadiz Mosaic Bistro Table, $99.99

Outdoor 2-Piece Square Toss Pillow Set, $43.99

Buckner Fire Pit, $129.99

White Lili Punched Drum Stool, $59.99

Threshold Rectangular Patio Rug, $59.99

Bridal Shower #1/2

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This weekend was so beautiful! I had two awesome showers and the best weather we’ve had all year. On Saturday, Ohio was beautiful, sunny and in the mid to upper 70s. My shower took place in Granville and many of my cousins and aunts on my dad’s side were present as well as some out-of-towners from Chris’s side.

10253922_10203822829477663_6934766676829324278_nThe theme was “shabby chic” and I could not believe how cute the decorations were. I was so impressed by all the details. My aunt exceeded my expectations and did a great job with everything. :-) It was so nice to be surrounded by family and I received some truly amazing gifts.

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Though it was super warm out, I opted to wear my favorite Limited maxi dress (from last year) to hide my pasty legs. They’re pretty bad. It’s been a very, very long winter.imageOn Sunday¬†I had another beautiful spring shower thrown by my church. With a high of 80, I was finally able to wear a non-floor length dress and I wore my new lavender Limited dress for the first time.

image-2I really enjoyed spending time with some wonderful ladies that I don’t see nearly often enough. We snacked on sandwiches, iced cupcakes and fresh fruit. I think it will take me a while to put away all the amazing gifts I received.

image-1Thank you to everyone who was involved with planning, decorating, hosting, and attending my showers. Big shout out to my sister and matron-of-honor, Steffi, for all her help. :-) I can’t wait for shower #3 where my oldest sister, Danielle, will be in attendance!

Favorite Spring Things

This weekend has the promise of being the first real spring weekend. With highs in the mid to upper 70s, I will certainly not complain. This winter was so long and cold and has made me yearn for spring even more than usual. I was beginning to have nightmares that my wedding day would be cold even though it is in June, which is usually in the upper 70s. This weekend’s forecast is especially exciting for me because I have TWO showers. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to finally wear a dress without a sweater or tights. I also plan on wearing open toe shoes (!). Unfortunately, my legs are in some seriously need of sunshine so I will be showcasing some pasty skin. Here are some of my favorite spring things:

You can never go wrong with a bright sun dress. This is one of the newer dressed added to ModCloth’s collection and I made sure I ordered it as soon as it went up on the site. I cannot wait to get it in the mail and wear it on a bright, sunny day.
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Warmer weather is usually the time that most people cut their hair. For the last year I’ve been growing out my hair for my wedding day. I usually keep a pretty short cut so it has been especially difficult for me to only get trims. After my wedding, I plan on getting a cut just like this one.0f790a216bd50b159fa6d86fd46b78b3

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After a cold, grey winter, the colorful signs of spring are welcome. I always get giddy when I see sprouts coming out of the ground and buds on the trees. Tulips are some of my favorites and I love all the happy colors they come in. The blossoms on the trees make me miss Athens and the beautiful Japanese Cherry Trees that bloom along the river.
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Spring is the perfect time to enjoy my favorite dessert – carrot cake! Carrot cake is the perfect Easter dessert but I think it’s appropriate to enjoy in various forms all year long. :-)a3234073bd8de6daa19c3e57e850f861

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With the arrival of spring comes the start of wedding season. This year I’m especially exciting for the most important wedding I will ever attend – my own! Tomorrow will mark the 8 weeks mark and I canNOT believe it! Where the heck has the time gone? Fortunately I’ve completed all the big things and only have to finish up all the small details.

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OOTD: Sunday Brunch

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Today it’s a beautiful 70 degrees in Columbus. It has me dreaming of sun dresses and pastels, both of which are featured in this outfit. ModCloth has the most fun selection of dresses and this one is the most beautiful salmon color. I also can’t get enough of the eyelet design, especially when paired with glitzy accessories, such as this J.Crew necklace and earring combo. You can’t go wrong with nude flats and a denim jacket for those cooler evenings. The Transport Tote from Anthropologie is my favorite tote that I don’t have but hope to purchase some day. It goes with just about any outfit you can imagine, whether casual or more dressed up, such as a Sunday brunch. I can’t wait for the temperature to continue to rise so I can break out all my favorite dresses.

1. AE Faded Denim Jacket, $49.95

2. Studded Wrap Watch, $97

3. Ray-Ban Erika Sunglasses, $115

4. Emmie Ballet Flat, $49.99

5. Making Melodies Dress, $99.99

6. Brass Leaves Earrings, $30

7. Factory Crystal Sunburst Necklace, $48.50

8. The Transport Tote, $168

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

As you probably know, carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts. It wasn’t until the last year or two that I realized my love for this vegetable cake. As much as I love this dessert, I had never made my own recipe from scratch. I have browsed Pinterest for numerous carrot cake recipes and decided to give the cupcake version a go. I made sure I purchase all the necessary spices before trying my hand at carrot cake. Most of the other ingredients are things I keep on hand all the time so I didn’t have to do too much prep and planning to make these cupcakes.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or thick greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups grated/chopped carrots (2-3 medium/large carrots, peeled)

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • about 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, more or less depending on desired consistency

Directions

  1. For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350F degrees. Thoroughly spray a 12-count muffin pan with floured cooking spray or use liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, canola or vegetable oil, granulated and brown sugars, sour cream/greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and spices. Slowly add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder until just combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Fold in the carrots. Pour batter into prepared pan carefully. Fill each muffin cavity about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way. You will likely have batter leftover for a few more cupcakes. I was able to make 15 total with this recipe.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cupcakes are domed and springy to the touch. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan for approximately 15 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  5. While cupcakes cool, begin making frosting. With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract on high power until combined and light and fluffy.
  6. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until you have reached the desired consistency. If you have made it to thick, add more cream cheese to thin it out.

Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks

carrotcake5carrotcake3carrotcake2carrotcake7This recipe was super easy. The batter is so thin that it isn’t hard to mix and there aren’t many steps to putting all the ingredients together. I made this at my mom’s house so I didn’t use my stand mixer at all. I did, however, use a food processor to chop the carrots. Some people prefer hand grating but I like the texture of a finely chopped carrot. I was able to produce 15 cupcakes from this recipe and more than enough frosting. In my opinion, the frosting was delicious and complemented the spicy cupcakes very well. If you’re a fan of carrot cake, this recipe is a great one to try because you still get the spice and deliciousness of carrot cake in a cupcake form. Feel free to add nuts or raisins if you like them and slather on the frosting as thick as you want. Enjoy!

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Wedding Registry Musts

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Registering was one of the most enjoyable wedding tasks that I completed. My fianc√© and I decided to register at three places in order to give our guests some diversity on gifts. We ended up registering at Macy’s, Target and Crate & Barrel. Macy’s was by far the most enjoyable place to register at. We just showed up, met with a representative to give us our packet and scanner, and went to town. We circled the whole home section and scanned just about anything and everything that caught our eye. I had made a list of items we needed before we went so we had a bit of a guide but Macy’s also provides you with a huge one, which helped with things we had forgotten. Once home, I edited the registry and added items here and there as I thought of them. We didn’t find nearly as many useful things at Target but registered for some essential gadgets and some home decor pieces. I did our Crate & Barrel registry purely online as we didn’t register for nearly as many items.

Are you recently engaged and have yet to register? Check out this list of essentials that everyone should have:

1. KitchenAid KSM150PS Artisan 5 Qt. Stand Mixer, $499.99

2. KitchenAid KCO223CU 12″ Convection Toaster Oven, $179.99

3. Lodge Cast Iron 12″ Skillet, $32.95

4. Calphalon Everyday Nonstick 12″ Covered Omelette Pan, $80

5. Hotel Collection 800 Thread Count Egyptian Cotton Sheets, $220/each

6. KitchenAid MSC-400 Multi-Cooker, 4 Qt. Cook Central, $235.99

7. Catskill Low Profile Slab Professional Grade End-Grain Cutting Board, $59.99

8. OXO SoftWorks Smooth Edge Can Opener, $19.99

9. Samsonite Cape May 25″ Spinner Suitcase, $139.99

10. Ninja NJ600 Professional Blender, $139.99

11. Kate Spade New York Set of 4 Larabee Road Polka Dot Tidbit Plates, $80

12. Shark Pet Perfect II Hand Vacuum, $59.99

13. 3-Piece Potluck Baker Set, $29.95