Friday, January 31

TOAST has a new look!

I sure hope you are enjoying the new design as much as I do!!!

I have been planning a blog make-over for months now. My indecisiveness drug out the process a bit. It was hard to make the all black and white jump, but I did and couldn't be happier!

Considering, I don't have much of a clue when it comes to blogging or html I knew I either needed a SUPER easy template or I was going to have to pay for a custom design service.

I was very fortunate to come across Brand Me Beautiful on Etsy! All of her templates look clean and chic, and she had great reviews to boot. Check out her Facebook page or Etsy shop for more of her designs!!

Thursday, January 30

{Printable} 2014 Calendars

Just in case you haven't already secured a new calendar this year, I've rounded up 8 lovely designs for you! Enjoy!
Download it: Jas + Mine

Download it: Oh the Lovely

Download it: Paper Snaps

Free Printable 2014 Calendar

Download it: Nalle's House

Download it: My Scandinavian Home

Download it: This Girl Loooves


Download it: Weekday Carnival


Download it: Observant Nomand

Observant Nomad | 2014 Calendar Closeup

Tuesday, January 28

Sweater Up!

Brrr. I think it's safe to say I am over the cold, but chunky sweaters, no way!

It's 21 degrees here (with a chance of snow flurries!!); You can bet I'll be layering up under some wooly knits like these by I love Mr. Mittens.

Monday, January 27

Hampson Woods

Hampson Woods boards stole my heart last week, and I just had to share. Happy Monday!

Friday, January 24

Valentine's Day Gift Guide

That's right. It's time to start thinking about Valentine's Day, the holiday I love to hate. Yes it's a commerical joke, but jokes can be fun, right? I've already bought up some cute cards and made ravioli in the shape of hearts; So basically I am planning to make the most of it!

In the name of the love, all things pink, and chocolate, here's a Valentine's Day Gift Guide.

For your ladies: 

Of course, you cannot go wrong with chocolate for Valentine's day. I recently scored this Mast Brothers Chocolate Cookbook on sale, and have been head-over-heals (or should I say stomach-over-waistband) ever since. It's my go to source for all things chocolate, and I mean ALL THINGS. Their recipes, although mostly-very simple, come off decadent and rich. You'll never need another source when it comes to the question, 'what will have for dessert?' Chocolate, duh.

2. Anthropologie Veranda Throw
So you should know we recently got this veranda throw in turquoise - it's INCREDIBLY soft - and will not disappoint! Last V-Day, the {now} hubs and I decided to gift each other things to make our Saturday mornings even more splendid. That's what we love, lazy Saturday mornings, when we can lay around in pajamas, cook a big breakfast, drink too much coffee, and even catch up on a little online perusing or missed episodes of our favorite shows. While he totally outdid himself, with a stellar mixing bowl set and subscription to Kinfolk, I will forever be made fun of for getting him a Pendleton throw blanket. Of which, we use just about every day (see... practical!). Even if Sam doesn't agree, I think a cozy new blanket just screams let's cuddle up!

3. Lush Bath Bombs
I have yet to visit a LUSH store, but hear they are quite the experience. I can, however, attest to their bath bombs. My lovely sister-in-law has gifted me a few amazing LUSH products over the years, and I simply cannot get enough. Nice bath products are a luxury item for many of us, and so is even having the time for a bath. You should really check out LUSH if you haven't already.  Maybe even get yourself a V-Day gift this year!

4. Another Feather Jewelry
Simple, stylish, pieces to wear for years and years. You really cannot go wrong  with any thing by Another Feather designer, Hannah Ferrara. Her designs are unique while still feeling classic. I really love ring stacking, and think it can be a neat gift idea to build on. Another Feather would be the perfect place to start a ring collection, and if that's not for you, find a statement piece.

5. The Gentlewoman Subscription
Last year's Kinfolk magazine subscription was like the gift that just kept giving, and thus inspired this choice. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed Kinfolk, and would recommend it completely if you're not already subscribing, The Gentlewoman is my mag of the moment. The Gentlewoman is like the empowerment model of fashion mags. Printed in Holland, it's a mix of international fashion industry musings, profiles on some of the most talented woman, and plenty of old-school glamor. It'll be the gift she doesn't forget about because really it lasts all year!

6. Mason Cash Heart Mixing Bowl
So you know how I said my husband wasn't exactly thrilled by the throw blanket I got him? Well, I'll admit, I wasn't exactly thrilled by my mixing bowl set at first, but let me tell you, now I have no clue what I used before I had them! Maybe not for everyone, but a nice mixing bowl set is invaluable in any kitchen if your special someone doesn't already have one. Plus, these Mason Cash's bowls with the hearts are more than adorable, and even come in ivory if you don't think pink will be her thing.
7. Custom Artwork
You probably cannot go wrong with any custom piece of art for your girl, especially if you know her style well. I have long adored these custom, mid-century style, portraits found on Etsy. Unfortunately, you may need more time to place a custom order, but this also made me think of a photography session (which you still have time to pull off). Because whoever said you had to be engaged to have some pictures made? I think no matter the medium, art can capture the amazing love you have for another person at a special time in your life. A sure win on Valentine's.

For your guys:

1. Hudson Whiskey
Hudson Whiskey's are the coolest. I like them allllll. I chose this one to show off because I will never forget ordering one in San Fran (a splurge for my bachelorette party weekend), and the bartender made some comment about it being an east coast drink. I still just think we should fix that. Hudson Whiskey for all the coasts!

2. Green Soccer Journal Subscription
I'll admit it. I hate the idea that print is dying, and refuse to believe it. Have you not noticed; Some GREAT publications have come out in the past few years. The Green Soccer Journal is one not to miss. I even love reading it! Whoever you are buying for might not appreciate soccer like our household, but this is 2014. Meaning, the World Cup is just around the corner! So if there was any year to brush up on your soccer knowledge, ummm it would be now!

3. Bloodroot Blade Work Knife
This item may very well be regional, but in Arkansas guys carry knives. I know I have featured their chef knife before [here], but Bloodroot Blade work knives (even machetes) are equally bad-ass. Sam totally wants this knife, and I think it's pretty awesome myself. After looking at their website, you'll definitely bookmark it. If not for this occasion, another occasion to come.

4. Hand-carved Walnut Muddler
We've been making cocktails like never before! I think this walnut muddler's design is spectacular, and would love to have it around the house when mixing up old fashions.  This particular etsy shop has other designs and wood types that are all equally as great. Honestly, it would be hard to beat a hand-carved wooden bar tool paired with a nice bourbon on Valentine's day.

5. Nixon Watch
I've always considered a timepiece a great gift! Watches are a splurge, and not necessarily something you buy yourself.  Those two things, for me, make them a great gift idea. Nixon has had my attention for a while. They're often unique and priced quite reasonably. This particular one is from Urban Outfitters, and on their website you'll find more Nixon styles and tons of other watch options too!

6. J.Crew Tie Clip
Since the husband has been on the interview trail (Match Day is March 21!), I've been pushing tie clips. I think they make men's clothing stand out without being too flashy. It's a simple accessory that says, 'I'm put together,' no matter how frazzled or nervous you might really be feeling. J.Crew has this simple silver one, and we've also found several nice ones on etsy.

7. Byrd's Cookie of the Month 
I might of saved the best for last. In my opinion, cookies are the single best snack and/or dessert food. I once got my dad a Byrd's cookie of the month club from Gilt.Com. It was a great deal, and each month he received 1lbs of their homemade cookies - a different flavor every month. All of their cookie flavors are to die for, and he loved having the extra sweets around. What is even better, is they send you one of their signature glass cookie jars in the beginning, so you have it to refill all year long.

Friday, January 17


"In our next home," I keep saying, "We are not taking anything that isn't functional or has meaning."

Maybe we will - maybe we won't, but with this mindset I've  become focused on this idea of having a large, multi-use table where family can come together, entertain, or even get work done. What do you think?

Here are a few spaces I've fallen for from around the web:

unknown source (help?)

Tuesday, January 14

{Link Love} Homemade Pasta Recipes

As I've already said, Christmas was really good to me to this year! My mom and mother-in-law both spoiled me with kitchen aid pasta making attachments for my stand mixer. I finally made homemade pasta for the first time last week. Needless to say, it was the BEST pasta to ever come out of my kitchen (even for my very first batch)!

Now, I can't wait to keep playing around in the kitchen with flour and eggs! Here are a few recipes I look forward to making, and a couple that helped me get to started. Have a great week!

David Lebovitz: How to Make Fresh Pasta

The Little Kitchen: Homemade Pasta with Kitchen Aid

A Beautiful Mess: Adventures in Pasta Making

Twigg Studios: Homemade Farfalle 

Chasing Delicious: Peppered Kale Pasta Dough

Sunday, January 12

Five Chef Essentials (and Wooden Spoon Butter Recipe)

Since getting married in June, our kitchen cabinets have been filled with some of the best tools in cooking. Our friends and family love us no doubt! I wanted to share a list of my five favorites – things I don’t think I could live without!  

 If you are like me, you are already starting to receive save the dates for spring and summer weddings (exciting!!).  So plan ahead and pick up a few chef essentials for the newlyweds in your life!

1. Wooden spoons // Pampered Chef or Herriott Grace

I've had my Pampered Chef spoons for nearly ten years, and they are my go-to for everyday cooking. However, Herriott Grace creates beautiful wood spoons that would make awesome gifts. Wooden spoons do require some TLC. To keep them in pristine condition, lather your wooden utensils up with a homemade butter to restore their moisture and extend their use (recipe below).

2. Towels // WS Organic Cotton or Anthro Plaid

Anthropologie is one of my favorite places to pick up cutesy kitchen linens, but William-Sonoma's are incredibly practical. They are all quite absorbent, and hold up against repeated washer/dryer cycles. Can you ever have too many good dishtowels? Probably not.

3. A Dutch-oven // Le Creuset or Staub

I know both these brands are a splurge, but they'll last a lifetime (maybe two). Don't do the whole, "I'll just get this cheaper one to see if I really use it" thing. You'll regret it - In the back of your head you'll really want one of these :) Now, if you do have a wedding coming up, and your bride has registered for a dutch oven, start calling up friends and go in on one together! I promise she will love you forever!

4. Bowls // Mason Cash Pudding Bowls or Vintage Pyrex

You simply cannot go wrong with Pyrex mixing bowls. They are very easy to find on Etsy and across the web. Mine were handed down from my grandma, and are still in great shape after 50+ years of use! Maybe vintage isn't for you though. The Mason Cash bowls are a classic, well-made, European option for those who want a simple, traditional mixing bowl. The Mason Cash Pudding Bowls have been found in the kitchen on the set of Downton Abbey, and used by icons such as Julia Child and Martha Stewart. The Queen also relies on them as gifts at Christmas time. So really, I don't think you can go wrong with Mason Cash, either.

5. Knives // Bloodroot Blades and Chroma

So I've always wanted a handcrafted-artisan chef knife, and I think I found the perfect place to get one. Bloodroot Blades crafts and customizes knives for all types of uses. Their work is amazing and I've read nothing, but fabulous reviews. For our everyday knives, I went with the recommendation of a trusted source - the owner of Milynn's in Dardanelle, AR - who had been a wiz at guiding me through wedding registry. She told me about, Chroma, a knife company in Georgia. The day she showed me their knives, I picked up three, and I can't wait to get back for more. We've been solely using their Japanchef knives ever since, and highly recommend them!

Have fun creating the perfect kitchen or planning your wedding gift purchases, and in the meantime, make sure you are caring for the wood in your kitchen (think spoons, boards, trays, and bowls).  I use this wooden spoon butter recipe for keeping my utensils from getting too dry:

Homemade Wooden Spoon Butter

In a large sauce pan of boiling water, I placed a quart mason jar with my beeswax (a quarter of a pound) cut into small chunks. Once the wax was melted, I placed another jar with the 16 ounces of mineral oil in the water to gently heat. Then I poured the mineral oil in with the beeswax and allowed them to continue to heat and emulsify, gently stirring until smooth and even. Take your jar out of the water bath, allow to cool and it's ready to use.


Thursday, January 9

Rye Chai

So if you visited at all during the holidays then I probably made you try my rye chai - even if just to tell me how wonderful it is. Don't ask why it took me so long to put two of my favorite things - chai tea and whiskey - together into one warm delicious beverage. All I can figure is sometimes it's just hard to see what's been there all along.

So here you go, coming at you for the very first time, a Rye Chai cocktail recipe:

Start with a basic chai tea recipe (like the one below). I love this one from the Kinfolk dinner in Ojai Valley I found on The Local Rose blog.

Chai Tea Recipe

2 tsp. black tea (or Roibois if you prefer decaf)
10 cardamon split open
1 cinnamon stick
6-8 whole black peppercorns
3 cloves
small chunk of raw ginger
1 whole star anise
1 12 cups milk (or alternative)
1 1/2 cups of water
2-4 tsp brown sugar or honey

Add the tea, spices, and water to a pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and let simmer for 10 minutes. Then add your milk and sugar. Turn the temperature back up to dissolve the sugar, and as soon as it boils, turn the heat back down. Filter spices out after 2-3 minutes. Then, simply add a shot of your favorite rye whiskey (we've been using Bulleit bourbon's rye), and serve in a mug with a cinnamon stick.

Chai Tea Recipe's Original Source: 

Tuesday, January 7

Darling Magazine

It's time to talk girly mags because Darling has officially become my favorite. The magazine features writing, poetry, recipes, and plenty of fashion and beauty inspiration!

In their most recent issue, No. 6, are three great beauty scrub recipes! You'll have to buy the magazine to learn how to make a pumpkin-sugar or ginger coconut body scrub :) but let me tell ya - they look a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

I had initially thought I was going to make their Lemon-Peppermint Foot Scrub because I adore peppermint scents in the winter, but realized my grocery didn't have peppermint oil or sweet almond oil as it turns out. So I figured the olive oil I already had in the pantry would suffice - and it did! I went ahead and added a little honey because, well it's honey and I love it. So for all of your with dry ashies today - say no more! Here are two great recipes that will nourish your skin just in time:

Lemon-Peppermint Scrub
1 cup sugar in the raw or course sea salt
1/2 cup sweet almond oil
2 tsp lemon zest
Peppermint Oil

Honey Lemon Sugar Scrub
1 cup sugar in the raw
1/2 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp honey 

On the difference in oils: Almond oil and olive oil both have skin benefits. As for the almond oil, it not only soothes and nourishes the skin, but plays a role in strengthening nails and cuticles (which is why it might be the better choice for a hand or foot scrub!)

Olive oil, on the other hand, has been used in skin care for hundreds of years because of its anti-inflammatory properties (like ibuprofen for your skin!), but it's the moisturizing antioxidants like squalence that make it an ideal oil to use in homemade sugar scrubs. (I feel I should disclose this knowledge was acquired while researching substitutes in the grocery isle. Just take it at that.)

Starting with the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar or salt to a 1/2 cup oil, you can create and customize with scents and oils to come up with whatever scrub your heart (or skin) fancies!

So have fun with these this winter! Even get creative, and make some body scrubs of your own! The only catch is you MUST share the recipe with me :) 

Sunday, January 5

Life Lately


1. My dog is the cutest. And needs a haircut.
2. I am obsessed with milk glasses, and head-over-heels in love with my new S&P shakers.
3. This Bialetti has revolutionized my morning coffee.
4. My weakness! More unnecessary (but oh-so-cute) plates.
5. Sunset before work. NOTE: I worked way too much this holiday season. Never again.
6. Clover enjoying the window; Her usual.
7. New Year's Eve bonfire with some rather lovely folks
8. Black-eyed pea prep on New Year's Day

Saturday, January 4

Lemon Bundt Cake

What should you make today?
You should make this lemon bundt cake.

There's nothing like the dead of winter to make me crave citrus flavors. I originally searched for a lemon cake recipe to make for my mom's birthday (lemon is her favorite), and came across this one from the White on Rice Couple's blog. I have long loved their blog, and knew I could trust this recipe. It's fairly straight forward, and quite simple assuming you have a stand-mixer for whipping cream.

The cake turned out moist and lemony. My family seemed to enjoy it at my Mom's birthday dinner, too! I personally loved the lemon glaze that is poured on while the cake is still hot. It soaks into the top, and adds lots of flavor! You can find the original recipe on the white on rice couple's blog, here!

Lemon Bundt Cake Recipe

cake ingredients:
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
3 cups sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
zest from 4 large lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream

lemon glaze ingredients:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

vanilla icing ingredients:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extrat
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan or 24 fluted brioche tins.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt for at least 20 seconds. Set aside. 

In a mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes (if the bowl does not feel cool while creaming, place it in the freezer for 5 minutes, then continue creaming).

Beat in the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. On the lowest speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just incorporated.

Mix in the flour mixture in three stages, until just combined.

Whip the cream just past the soft peak stage. Stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the batter, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan (or brioche tins). Drop the pan from about 4" above the counter to knock out any bubbles.

Bake on the middle oven rack for 50-60 minutes (about 20 minutes for small tins), or until a toothpick comes out clean near the center. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the cake by knocking it against the counter. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

Stir together lemon glaze ingredients (if needed, heat them briefly to help dissolve the sugar). Brush on the hot cake until all of the glaze is absorbed. After it has cooled, if serving within a day or two continue to final step, or if serving later in the week, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve (keeps 4-5 days wrapped in the fridge).

On the day you are ready to serve (or the night before), take the bundt out of the fridge to come up to room temperature. In a bowl, whisk together the icing ingredients, adjusting the cream or confectioners sugar amount to make the icing fairly thick but pourable, not too runny. If the icing is close to the thickness you want, but still a touch too thick to pour, warm it slightly and it will become more fluid until it cools off (perfect for icing the bundt cake). Drizzle the icing over the top of the bundt cake and serve.


Wednesday, January 1

New Years Day Lunch

One of the greatest gifts my grandmother ever gave me was the cookbook, Home for the Holidays, written by her good friend, Mescal Johnson.

It's a guide to traditional southern cooking the author describes as "A Festive Country Cookbook." The book separates its recipes into seasons and occasions, and her New Year's Day lunch menu is one of my favorites.

Hog Jowl with Black-eyed Peas
French-Fried Onion Rings
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Mixed Greens
Red Apple Salad
Cornmeal Muffins
Rice Pudding with a Lemon Sauce

We've made her black-eyed peas and corn muffins over and over throughout the years, and for the first day of 2014, we have planned to enjoy this special meal before adventuring out on a hike, then curling up with some new books. Because that's what New Year's Day is all about to us - Celebrating the first day of the year in a way that sets the pace for the rest. Happy New Year's!

Hog Jowl with Black-eyed Peas

1/2 lbs. hog jowl
4-5 cups of water
1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas
1 medium onion
1 green bell pepper*
1 red bell pepper*
1 jalapeno*
1 teaspoon salt

Wash and slice hog jowl, cover with water, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours.

Wash peas, set aside. Dice onion and bell pepper. Add the onion to the water with the peas once water has reached desired seasoning, and bring back to a boil for 30-45 minutes. Peas should be tender, but not mushy.

Add peppers and salt to taste during last 15 minutes of cook time. More salt may be needed if fresh pork was substituted for hog jowl.

Cornmeal Muffins

1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons oil
1 egg

Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt thoroughly in a bowl. Measure milk into a 2-cup measure. Add oil and unbeaten egg. Mix together thoroughly.

Make hole in center of cornmeal mixture and dumb in milk mixture. Stir only until ingredients are moistened. (Add more milk, if needed, to make batter that can be poured).

Fill hot, oiled muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 17-20 minutes. Make about one dozen 2 1/2 inch muffins.

*optional ingredients, not found in original recipe

Mescal's Home for the Holidays is available in paperback at Barnes and Noble