Mother’s Day Fare

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Last weekend, Emily and I went to our parents’ house to celebrate our lovely and incomparable mother. She’s one of the kindest ladies I know, who will unfailingly stop on her way to work to rescue a lost dog or sneak into my house on the morning of my birthday to decorate the bathroom mirror with lipstick. (In the picture above, she’s that cutie in the middle. Shoutout to my Aunt Linda and Uncle Bob, too.)

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After attending church with my grandparents and enjoying a mimosa-infused brunch, the three of us headed home for a ladies’ day. We snuggled with the dogs (nothing unusual about that though), painted our nails, watched Wild (which is just beautiful, by the way), and took a break for afternoon tea. I made chocolate-orange popovers and little tea sandwiches for the occasion. Of course, it was a bit of an ode to my mom’s mom, the tea and petit fours queen.

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For dinner, I made individual vegetarian pot pies, a beet and goat cheese salad, and grapefruit bars for dessert. My cooking at home has waned significantly in the past few months, so I go a little crazy when I get the chance. It was a day of eating, but what holiday isn’t? Here’s my recipe for veggie pot pies. (adapted from this one).

Individual Vegetarian Pot Pies // makes 4

Ingredients: 
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. of butter
1 c. reduced-fat milk
3 Tbsp. flour
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
salt + pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, whisked

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté the broccoli, covered, for a few minutes. Add the carrots and onions, and sauté for several more minutes, until they’re beginning to get soft.

3. Combine milk and flour in a large saucepan over medium heat by whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer 3-5 minutes, until mixture is thick, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese slowly. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Don’t worry – it’s supposed to be that thick. If you’re struggling with the consistency, you can add a touch more milk. Fold in the veggies.

4. Cut the puff pastry sheet into four equal squares. Cut an X in the middle of each piece of puff pastry to vent. Divide the veggies-cheese mixture into four ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Top each with puff pastry and brush with egg wash. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until puff pastry is puffy and golden brown.

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10 Ideas for an Alternative Valentine’s Day

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1. Make an indulgent breakfast and laze around all morning. I recommend these strawberry buttermilk doughnuts.

2. Print some sweet valentines to pass out. I love these ones from The Black Apple and these Downton Abbey-themed ones.

3. Knit a stuffed anatomical heart. Or if you don’t have time, knit a quick heart hair clip.

4. Stay in and watch a great, classic romantic movie like Funny Face or When Harry Met Sally.

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5. Make this hilarious and punchy “bang me” valentine for your special someone.

6. Go on a bike ride to your favorite book store with your date and pick out a book for each other.

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7. Participate in a cool, collective project like the One Sheepish Girl heart bomb. I did it last year and it was great fun.

8. Bring some love to your office with these super simple valentines for co-workers.

9. Fill someone’s car/closet/cubicle with heart-shaped balloons.

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10. Have a Galentine’s Day brunch with your gal pals.

This year, Domenico and I are probably going to repeat our Valentine’s Day plans from last year by watching the Oscar-nominated short films at Camelview 5. We’re not going to eat out this time to avoid the craziness, but will make dinner together and probably do some kitchen dancing. Of course, we might go out to split a milkshake or a slickable.

Make This: Home Photo Album

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I am not a scrapbooker. Although, I must admit, I alway did love those little, detailed stickers and decal packs that had nurses’ scrubs and hamburgers in them, and I’ve always had an abundance of patterned paper tucked under my bed. But those scrapbooks with the photo corners and inspirational-phrase stickers always seemed too tacky to me.

However, last year, I decided I wanted to document my home and compile the photos into an album. After moving to my first adult home and watching my parents’ house change over the last few years, I realized how important it is to preserve the memory of how and where I live. I also noticed that the pictures I take often revolve around people, special events, and vacation spots. (And even that seems to be dwindling lately – my iPhone photos mostly consist of food and outfits I’m proud of.) Yet, I hardly have any photos of the place I spend most of my time. I decided I wanted to create a simple and small photo album documenting that place. Because I wanted to keep things simple, I chose a Project Life album and picked out a few cute stickers and gold, glittery letters.

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Here are some things I learned from my first foray into scrapbooking:

1. Take good photos. I guess that’s pretty obviously, but it’s really important. I used my sister’s nice DSLR and was very selective when choosing which photos I wanted to print. Along with this point, take unexpected photos. I decided I wanted all of mine – for the most part – to be people free. So how many shots can you take of your living room? A lot, it turns out. I shot some wide-angle photos and then got in close to capture the details in each room. I took pictures of the inside of my bookcases and the perfumes on my vanity. With each spot, I varied the angles and played with the perspective.

2. Try adding embellishments directly to the photos. I applied glitter glue to some photos and wrote personal notes on others. This is particularly effective if you want to avoid that clunky, traditional scrapbook look.

3. Don’t be afraid to cut your photos in half. I bought an assortment of Project Life photo pages that accommodated a combination of 4×6 and 2×3 photos. In some cases, I wanted to put a 4×6 photo where there were two 2×3 spaces. So I just sliced the picture in half and put the pieces side by side. These actually ended up being some of my favorite pages. That being said, you should really plan ahead and think about the sizes and orientation of your photo pages before you do any printing.

If you want some more scrapbooking inspiration, check out these projects on A Beautiful Mess. I know I want to keep making these little albums, hopefully turning it into a tradition for each home I call my own.

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