Feels Like Fall

Despite our unseasonably warm weather (we’ve been in the lower 80’s this week – YUCK!) I’ve been getting in the Fall mood this week and thought I’d share a few scenes from our house last weekend.

Have you ever noticed the amazing smell that permeates all of the William Sonoma stores?  A little while back, I stumbled upon the recipe for their secret weapon.  It couldn’t be easier and makes your house smell heavenly.


The ingredients are basic and simple with lemon, fresh rosemary, vanilla and water.  I added additional vanilla to make it smell more sweet than savory but either way smells wonderful.  I put the extra ingredients in jars for a quick save for un-expected house guests.

I love any excuse to bake (especially when I can give it away!)  A dear friend moved into her new house a few weeks ago and it gave me the perfect excuse to try out a new recipe.


Chai Spice Bread

The recipe calls for a glaze drizzle – but since I was going to be wrapping it up I left the glaze off.  I actually liked that it wasn’t overly sweet.  It would be perfect with a little afternoon tea!


Prep time: 15 min. Total time: 3 hrs. 55 min (includes cooling time)
Makes 1 loaf or 4 mini loaves (as pictured above)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup prepared tea (I like to use Pumpkin Chai from David’s Tea)
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
3-5 tsp. milk
additional ground cinnamon

1) Heat oven to 350 F. Grease loaf pan with cooking spray.

2) In large bowl, beat sugar & butter with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in eggs, tea, milk, & vanilla on low speed until ingredients are well combined (will appear curdled) . Stir in remaining bread ingredients just until moistened. Spread in pan.

3) Bake 50-60 minutes for a full loaf (35 minutes for mini loaves) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean & slightly golden (do not under bake). Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool 30 minutes.

4) In small bowl, stir powdered sugar, vanilla, & 3 tsp. of the milk, adding more milk by the teaspoonfuls, until spreadable. Spread glaze over bread. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly & store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.


My Fall weekend wouldn’t be complete unless I had a Linnea’s Lights Pumpkin candle burning.  I feel like Fall has officially arrived the day these arrive at the store.  I am extremely picky when it comes to scents – I can’t stand anything that has a fake, sweet smell.  My husband even loves the scent, and he’s even pickier than I am!

Linnea’s Lights Pumpkin Candle


Happy Fall everyone!


Getting Ready

I can’t believe it’s that time again!  When we finally turned the calendar page for July 1st, it officially started to feel like Summer is really here.  With 4th of July right around the corner we’ve been getting ready…


Every year we deck our house out in bunting under our windows…..


…and raise the flag. (Excuse our mess on the table!)

We’ve been patriotic at the shop too with our canvas American Flags on reclaimed wood!


Aside from Christmas, I really think the 4th is my next favorite holiday.  Growing up we would always have a huge 4th of July backyard party.  There would usually be close to 100 people there.  We would have kids, grandparents, and everyone in between.  The celebration would be complete with gunny sack races, bubble gum blowing contests, and intense volley ball competitions!  This year we’re keeping things a little more low-key with a small bar-b-q on the deck, but still a ton of fun.  Our street always has a neighborhood parade, where everyone decks out their bikes in streamers and flags.

I’m off to the farmer’s market to pick up some ingredients for this pasta salad for tomorrow:

via Martha Stewart

How delicious does this look!

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto cut into strips
  • 1 small shallot minced
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup pitted Cerignola olives (or your favorite olives) sliced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

I’m thinking of swapping out the goat cheese for cubed mozzarella.  Even though I absolutely love goat cheese, I think there are fewer of us that do.

We’d love to hear how everyone else is celebrating! Please share!


Royal Libations

It’s being touted as the wedding of the decade — Prince William and Kate Middleton are officially tying the knot on April 29th and when they do, everyone will be watching {or at least a third of the world’s population!}.  With all of the television networks set to cover the historic event, it’s a great excuse to gather with friends and family to take part in the festivities from across the pond.

This week, Melissa and I made our television debut discussing our tips for hosting a royal wedding viewing party and so I thought I’d share some of the highlights from our segments as the big day draws near.  Whether hosting a traditional English high tea with scones and cucumber sandwiches tickles your fancy or a pub-inspired bash with beer and British comfort food is more your style, creating a signature cocktail is a fun way to liven up the party.  Here are two easy recipes to do just that:

Royal Tea

2 parts gin
2 parts brewed and chilled Earl Gray Tea
Squeeze of lemon juice
Spoonful of sugar
Lime wheels for garnish

Pour the ingredients into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with lime wheels.

Black & Tan

1 (12 oz) bottle lager beer {such as Bass®}
1 (12 oz) bottle Irish stout beer {such as Guinness®}

Fill pint glass half full with Bass.  Next, slowly pour Guinness over a spoon, dome side up, until glass is full.  Allow to stand a few seconds so two distinct layers of beer form.

Stay tuned for more fun party tips leading up to the event next Friday!

Recipes and images via About.com and Drinks Mixer

Candlelit Dinner for One

On a rainy night nothing sounds better to me than cozying in at home with good food and good company.  But since I’m single at the moment and wasn’t in the mood to entertain friends after the season of entertaining, last night I decided to cozy up solo to a big bowl of stew {by candlelight no less}.

At the mention of stew, you may think of Julia Child’s famed boeuf bourguignon or your mother’s traditional beef stew, but my go-to recipe is much simpler {and I’m pretty sure it’s healthier too}.  I came across it a few years ago in Real Simple and have made it countless times for special someones, friends, and yours truly.  It’s comfort in a bowl, really.  And you don’t even have to stick to the exact recipe — as long as you throw in the main ingredients, you can add more or less of anything you want and it’s still delish!

Sometimes cooking for one is just as rewarding as impressing a man with your culinary skills or hosting a dinner party for friends.  And the best part is, there are leftovers!