February 2015 archive

link love

2-26 2We love snow days!

Last night it snowed 6 inches of fluffy, soft snow that stuck to every tree branch and pine needle.  None of that icy, half-inch business this week.  We stayed home and enjoyed the snow day together, Will studying, me baking (what else is new :) ).

Here are some of the links I’ve been loving around the interwebs this week:

Will and I just finished watching the last season of The West Wing just in time for our other favorite political show to start up again.  Is anyone else super excited about the third season of House of Cards coming out TODAY!?

While we enjoyed our snow day here, poor, poor Boston isn’t having so much fun.

Sometimes we get caught up in the things we don’t have or how difficult our lives are.  We’re doing better than we think we are, and better than a lot of other people.

Gallup’s Well-Being poll recently came out, ranking the highest and lowest well-being states.  Alaska took first place this year. I understand Hawaii, the runner-up, being high in well-being, but this confuses me.  Cold, dark and happy?

I can totally relate to this blogger.  My husband is fun and adventurous.  My brother and sister are funny.  I often feel like all of my friends know how to let go and have a better time than I do.  I’m overly cautious and I’m not terribly spontaneous, in fact, it is rare that I don’t have a plan.  I’m trying to be more fun, really.  Maybe planning spontaneity is the first step.

Here’s to a weekend full of fun and adventure!  Happy Friday, friends!

 

for the kids

FTK! For The Kids!

If you know me, you are almost certainly aware of my love for UNC Dance Marathon (now Carolina For The Kids) and the funds it raises for the Children’s Hospital.  Dance Marathon was a huge part of my college experience and especially my senior year, when I helped lead the organization.  It was a life-changing experience and I learned so much from it and from the patients and families we helped.

On Friday night, UNC-DM/CFTK hosted their annual Benefit Reception, a live and silent auction benefiting, of course, the Children’s Hospital.

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Bravo, a capella.

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These wonderful people are some of my close friends and fellow Executive Board alumni from last year’s Dance Marathon.  That vector we are holding-it’s a clinic.  A children’s clinic!  With the money we raise in the next few years, Carolina For The Kids is building this clinic to serve the children across North Carolina and give families easier access to care.  I’m so excited!

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Wonderful, wonderful friends.

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I met these beauties for brunch on Saturday to squeeze in some more quality-time before everyone left.  Come back soon friends!

This weekend filled me with nostalgia and so much love for these friends and this organization.  I’m so glad to have been a part of Dance Marathon/Carolina For The Kids and so excited to see the amazing things it will accomplish this year.  FTK always.

sunday sweets: chocolate bourbon pecan pie

Just read that again.  Chocolate. Bourbon. Pecan. Pie.

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Doesn’t that just sound delightful, warm and comforting?  This pie is a chocolatey, toasty, gooey treat full of nuts and texture.  The combination of chocolate, bourbon and pecans melts in your mouth and warms you up from the inside (which we all need with this weather).

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Toasty pecans make for a wonderful filling.

choc pecan pie 5 Don’t forget Jim and chocolate.  Lots of chocolate.

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When it involves chocolate, pecans, bourbon and pie, there should never be leftovers.

Let’s bake up this deliciousness, snuggle up and watch the beautiful dresses on the red carpet.  Happy Oscaring!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

1 of your favorite pie crusts
2 cups pecan halves, lightly toasted
3 eggs
¾ cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon+ 1 ½ teaspoons bourbon
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Place the pie crust in your pie dish. Fold the edges of the pie dough under and crimp the dough between your index finger and thumb as you work your way around the pie plate. Wrap the crust in plastic wrap and freeze until firm, or about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Coarsely chop ¾ cup of the toasted pecans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the corn syrup, sugars, butter, salt, vanilla and bourbon and whisk again until all of the ingredients are combined. Stir in the chopped pecans and set the filling aside.

Spread the chocolate chips evenly along the bottom of the frozen pie crust. Slowly pour the pecan filling on top of the chocolate chips. Place the remaining 1 ¼ cups pecan halves on top of the filling.

Place the pie in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil and bake for another 30 minutes. When a knife comes out of the pie filling clean, the pie is done. If your tester knife does not come out clean, bake the pie for 5 more minutes and test it again.

Cool the pie and serve warm or at room temperature.

The pie can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered with plastic wrap.

link love

vday 11Happy Friday, friends!

This week has been an odd one, filled with snow, sleet, ice and frigid temperatures but also sunny skies. It’s like the weather can’t make up it’s mind.  I mean, 1 degree, I can’t even comprehend what that feels like.  When it gets below 10 degrees, there is no differentiation, it’s just cold.  I hope the weekend brings warm drinks and cozy blankets.

Here are a few links I’ve been loving this arctic week.

This article gives an interesting take on prioritizing and choosing a few things, not everything.  I need this.  I fall into the I-just-want-to-do-everything category.  Whoops.

Growing up my siblings and I were never allowed to be picky eaters.  We ate all of the “adult” foods that our parents ate.  My culinary palate is thankful for that now.

Tell me you thought Taylor Swift said “all the lonely Starbucks lovers” in her song “Blank Space” when you first heard it too.  Nice comeback Starbucks.

All of the relevant links today!  I am absolutely guilty of always wanting to be productive, when sometimes, the most productive thing for me to do is probably just rest. Get on with it, schedule that down time.

This is a cool interactive art installation.  What would you do?

I hope your Friday is wonderful and warm (or at least wonderful)!  Sleep in, snuggle up in soft blankets, and eat some brunch tomorrow-it’s calling your name.

 

valentine’s day

Today I bring you an update from the Woodhouse home!  With all of the snow excitement it feels like Valentine’s Day was a long time ago, not just a few days ago.  Easter candy is already lining the shelves at the grocery store where pink boxes and conversation hearts sat on Saturday.  It’s a bit aggressive, if you ask me.  Too soon, too soon, Harris Teeter.

Here are a few pictures from our Valentine’s Day.

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We had planned on having a picnic for lunch but got a little wimpy when we walked outside into the chilly weather.  Instead, we decided to have an indoor picnic!  Meals are more fun when you’re not at the table.

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After lunch we took a walk on some trails nearby and followed one up to a cute local coffee shop with an entrance in the woods.

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Will and I had our first date at the “Drops of Jupiter”-themed Homecoming dance sophomore year of high school.  Last weekend, we heard the song on the radio and realized that we had checked off a few things listed in the lyrics, but had never tried a soy latte.

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Drops of Jupiter lyric refresher:

“Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken?
Your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you’re wrong
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance, five-hour phone conversation?
The best soy latte that you ever had and me”

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We figured Valentine’s Day was a great day to fix that.  Also, I decided that I love latte bowls.

vday 14Sorry for the poor lighting in this picture, but it was dinner time, aka darkness.

We have never done much to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but we did want to make a special dinner together.  Our menu of tangerine shrimp, pomegranate asparagus and shallots, and roasted citrus salad was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  It was a great first Valentine’s Day as a married couple and a wonderful start to a tradition we can continue for years to come.

snow day!

Happy snow day!

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We had a fun day full of ice, snow and studying and working from home.

Here was our adventure walk in pictures!

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snow 10And the question of the day: do you want to build a snowman?!  Well, we really have mostly ice, so we won’t be joining you.  Hope you had a great day, whatever your weather!

 

sunday sweets: sugar cookies

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Did you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled with flowers, love and sweets?

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Growing up, my mom, my sister and I went to a Valentine’s party each year with the other girls and moms in our play group.  We all dressed up in our pink and red dresses, drank tea and ate finger sandwiches and impeccably decorated sugar cookies.  Ms. Alice, the mother who hosted the party every year, is famous for her delicious sugar cookies.  She makes them for every gathering, has the perfect cookie cutter for every occasion, decorates each one uniquely and beautifully with different icing colors, designs and sprinkles.  Everyone makes a beeline for her cookies at get-togethers.

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These cookies are soft and chewy and not oversweet-which means you can add all of the icing and sprinkles your heart desires : )

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Who doesn’t love cute sprinkles?  Copious amounts are acceptable and expected.

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Each time we have these, my dad exclaims that they are “some damn fine sugar cookies,” so we now call them Alice’s Damn Fine Sugar Cookies.  Make these cookies, extend your valentine’s day celebration and enjoy!

Alice’s Damn Fine Sugar Cookies

Ingredients
3 ¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients.

Pat your hands, a rolling pin and a flat surface with flour and roll the dough until it is about ¼-inch thick. Using your cookie cutters of choice cut out the dough and transfer the shapes onto the parchment covered cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked but not yet golden around the edges. If the edges begin to brown your cookies will be crisper rather than chewy and soft. Place the cookies on a wire rack and let cool completely.

Royal Icing

Ingredients
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 egg whites or 2 tablespoons meringue powder
Water for thinning
Food coloring or gel colors*

Combine the confectioner’s sugar and egg whites (or meringue powder) in the bowl of an electric mixer until the ingredients have combined. Mix for about 5 more minutes. If your icing is too thick to pipe add a few teaspoons of water at a time to the mixer. If you add too much water, never fear! Just add a bit more confectioner’s sugar.

Once your icing is the appropriate consistency (a little runny but still stiff enough to control), mix in food coloring or gel colors.

To ice the cookies, transfer your icing to a pastry bag fit with an icing tip. This is easier to do if you place the open pastry bag upright, tip down in a cup. Make sure all icing not in use is always covered so it does not start to harden.

Pipe your cookies with all the fun designs your heart desires. If you are going to use sprinkles, make sure you pour them on the cookie while the icing is still wet. Let the cookies dry, uncovered, for 6-8 hours, or overnight.

*Gel colors are more concentrated and require less color. They can be found at Michaels or other arts, crafts and baking stores as well as online.

link love

Feb 13 Link LoveThis picture is of a bird’s nest Will and I found while on a walk in the beautiful weather this past Sunday.  RIP 60 degree Sunday, welcome 25 degree Sunday.  At least we aren’t in Boston.

Here’s a look into what I’ve been reading this week:

These heart-shaped tea bags are the cutest, and just in time for Valentine’s Day : )

I’ve never been to New Orleans, but this seems like the right time of year to go.  King cakes for everyone! One shop makes king cakes filled with salted caramel, roasted pecans, mascarpone cheese and caramello, covered in a praline glaze.  It’s things like this that make me rethink why I haven’t visited.

When you go over to a friend’s house, are you ever the teensiest bit curious about what is in their fridge and their pantry?  I always think seeing someone else’s pantry is like transporting to a secret world.  Are they a cereal, oatmeal or pop tarts kind of person?  Are they a spaghetti hoarder or do they stock up on chocolate chips like they are going out of style (guilty on that last one)?  I just feel like there is so much you can learn about someone from their pantry!  Welllll, lucky for us nosy folks, Grub Street Diet, New York Magazine’s column about what’s eating what, gives us some insight.  One of my favorite food bloggers, Joy the Baker, is featured today, professing her love for Donuts and Girl Scout Cookies.  Be nosy with me, I dare you : )

This week is New York Fashion Week.  In its honor, this article raises an interesting point about the racial divide in the fashion industry.

This is an awesome project.  What would you do before you die?

This is a link I do not love, but I do think that it is important to disseminate it.  The crime that occurred in our community this week makes me sick.  Being around Chapel Hill, it is easy for us to hear the story through local news, but seeing the story and the hashtags (#ChapelHillShooting, #MuslimLivesMatter) spread throughout the world has been encouraging and hopeful for the future of equality.  Our hearts go out to those in our community who lost these three amazing young people this week.

To end on a better note, happy Friday and happy (almost) Valentine’s Day!  What are you doing for your sweetheart tomorrow?

Over and out.

 

 

snow memories

A year ago this week, a winter storm hit the South.  North Carolina has a tendency to shut down at the mere mention of a flurry in the forecast, but this was a real snow-and-ice, gridlock inducing storm that was particularly bad for two reasons: the ferocious speed at which it came and the melting and refreezing of the snow, which subsequently created lots of ice on the roads.  It hit at what I thought was a very inconvenient time (funny how snow seems to do that), but turned out to be a great memory.

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February 12th was the long awaited UNC-Duke basketball game in Chapel Hill.  As seniors, all of my friends and I were ecstatic and ready to go see a Tar Heel victory.

That morning I was working in Durham at the Children’s Hospital Radiothon when we saw the first flurries out the window around noon.  As the snow fell rapidly, a quick decision ended the call-in fundraiser early and we scrambled to contact families scheduled to come in later in the day while also packing up all of our supplies so everyone could head home.  By the time I got to my car it had been snowing for 2 hours and most people were already on the road.  Massive gridlock allowed me to go all of 2 blocks in an hour.  Luckily, Will only lived a few blocks away and walked to my car to help navigate our way to a parking deck where we left the car and walked back to his apartment.  At that point I was bummed that I probably wouldn’t make it to the game, but hopeful that the Duke basketball team wouldn’t be able to make it either.

Around 6pm, the rivalry basketball game was postponed-something that has never happened in its 236-game history.  I was snowed in with Will and his friends for three days with the Winter Olympics, no class and the two outfits I had from Radiothon.  It was delightful.  We baked cookies, watched all of the figure skating, luge and ski competitions you would ever want to see and found a yard sign to turn into our own sled (it worked surprisingly well!).

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I also built a (mini) snowman : )

If last year’s weather was any indication of what this year will be like, bring it on-our sledding hills are ready.

sunday sweets: brownies

I got a valentine in the mail from my grandmother yesterday complete with chocolate and a poem.  The poem was:  Roses are red, chocolate is edible, I hope your Heart’s Day is really incredible.  : )

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In honor of the upcoming holiday, here is a nice bit of chocolatey goodness for your valentine.  These brownies are rich, dense and chewy (none of that cakey business).  I don’t like it when people say “these are the best ___ ever,” but these truly are the best brownies I have ever made.  You know brownies are going to be good when you want to eat the chocolate studded batter by the spoonful (is that just me?).

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You should get out your dark chocolate and your baking mits and bake up this chocolatey goodness for your valentine this week.  If they weren’t your valentine before they eat these, they sure will be after.

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
½ pound (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon strongly brewed coffee
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup (6 oz) dark or bittersweet chocolate chips*

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Stir the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the eggs, sugar, butter, coffee and vanilla until well blended.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix just until all the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not over mix.

Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the brownies are firm to the touch. They will be slightly soft in the center when tested with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and cool 30 to 40 minutes before cutting (if you have the self-control for that…)

*you can use semisweet or a mixture of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate chips if you prefer.

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