4.15.2014

Take a Bite


Happy 1-Year Anniversary to my favorite blog, Take A Bite. Annie started her blog exactly one year ago today with this post and has been rocking the blog scene ever since. I couldn't be more proud of all the hard work that she has put in to Take a Bite and know that she has big things ahead of her! Even this past weekend someone came up to me and when they found out that Annie was my sister, they exclaimed, "her blog is so cool, don't you just love her blog!". They were so right, it is so cool, creative, and I do love it. I spent the day getting lost in the archives of my sister's blog and came up with a small list of my favorite posts. 









Looking forward to all the inspiration she will provide in the next year!

4.14.2014

Shoes in Two Places

From reading this blog or knowing me personally, you might know that one of my least favorite things to do is go shoe shopping. Take me to a store to buy dresses, work clothes, jewelry, or even makeup and I could probably spend the entire day doing it-- but shoes are a different story. I detest the act of having to look for the perfect shoe to go with a certain outfit or one pair of shoes for the new season. I always feel like there is so much pressure and I usually pick out the least practical or ugly shoes. I admit that I am pretty much a failure when it comes to shoe shopping. 

One way that I don't hate shopping for shoes is online. It is so much easier because the shoes are divided by style, sometimes color, and I can quickly quit whenever I become overwhelmed. Currently there are two places that I actually enjoy looking at and buying shoes- Ann Taylor Loft and Club Monaco. I have purchased numerous pairs from the Loft (usually on sale) and they are some of my favorite and most comfortable heels and Club Monaco just released their shoe collection in the last new months. 

I would recommend both sites if you are looking for shoes and the thought of walking in to a department store's shoe section gives you hives-- oh, just me? 

Ann Taylor Loft
Suede Peep Tow Wedge Sandals
Perforated Sandal - I just recently purchased these and love them!
Ankle Strap Gladiator Sandals

I would recommend never buying anything on Loft full price, just wait a day and they will be on sale!

Club Monaco

Calf Hair Sandal
T-Strap Sandal
Tassle Sandal

For as much as I don't like shoes, I sure do blog about them a lot. 

4.01.2014

Boyfriend Birthday Brownies

Betcha can't say that three times fast?
Because I sure can't. 

This past Sunday was my boyfriend's 27th birthday! Birthdays are and have always been a huge deal to me. When I was younger, I knew that when I woke up on my birthday, the traditional Tucker-family birthday sign would be hanging on the mantle, a special birthday breakfast was in store (waffles with strawberries and whipped cream), and I would get a call from my grandmother to sing 'Happy Birthday'. I almost always had a party, usually one that involved a pool (the result of having a birthday in the middle of the hot Oklahoma summers). Birthdays were a little different as I grew older and went to college, especially that monumental 21st birthday, but had no less importance and level of celebration. I love everything about birthdays and feel that they should be celebrated from the moment a person wakes up until they go to sleep!


The most important component of any birthday is the cake (that's my sweet tooth talking) and I wanted to make sure my boyfriend got exactly the kind of "cake" he wanted. I always request a strawberry cake with strawberry icing with strawberries on top, but he wanted plain and simple, delicious chocolate brownies. Feeling the pressure to make these brownies perfect, I turned to a constant source of recipe inspiration and followed this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

all images via. Smitten Kitchen

I thought the brownies turned out delicious; dense and flavorful. We even did a comparison taste test between the brownies I had made and the pan that his mom had sweetly made for him to (he had dropped hints to all the right people about his "cake"). He wasn't willing to reveal his thoughts and honestly, I couldn't decide with I liked better. They were both delicious and the perfect way to end the perfect birthday day!

Until the next birthday!

3.20.2014

Spicy Brussel Sprout Sweet Potato

Tuesday night will go down as the most productive night I have had in 2014. After taking a Barre3 class with my sister Annie, we went back to my apartment, made dinner, and then plopped down to watch T.V., and highlight Annie's hair. People always give us crazy looks when they find out that sometimes we forgo the professional salons and choose to freshen up our blonde locks ourselves with a $9 box kit from the drugstore. This is not a new trend for us, in fact, I remember watching my mom highlight my older sister's hair when I was still in elementary school. This was before the time that my mom thought it was appropriate to spend $100+ on coloring at a salon. When you have three daughters you have to make cuts somewhere and this is how we did it. The process is the same today as it was 15 years ago- a plastic cap covered in tiny holes in which you pull your hairs through and then coat with the lightening mixture. Just wait about 30 minutes, rinse, wash, and TA-DA you are a blonde beauty! This process is so easy that I have done it to myself numerous times. It's a great option for blondes between salon visits, but not always a great idea for brunettes. We tried it once on a friend and I am shocked that she still talks to us. #traumatic 

While Annie's color was "setting" I asked her to come to my closet to help me pack for our trip to Charleston. While standing in my closet, staring at my clothes, I got the overwhelming urge to "Spring Clean" my closet. Right then. At 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Before I knew it there was a pile 3-feet tall of sweaters, jeans, shoes, scarves, and purses on my floor and about 30 empty hangers amongst the reminder of the clothes hanging in my closet. Annie watched in amazement (shock?) as I parted with a good third of my closet and began to fold it all and place in bags. I followed the Everygirl's rules for cleaning out your closet and feel confident about the things I rid myself of. I am trying to simplify my life this spring and I think the four large bags of clothes now waiting to be sold/given away are a good start. 

After the closet purge, I cleaned up my room, started some laundry, and got in bed feeling accomplished and happy and slept better than I have in days. Not only had I done so much that day and night but had eaten a great dinner (I know you were all wondering how I was going to tie a recipe in to this story).

After Barre3 I quickly whipped this dinner up for Annie and I and we both loved it. Sweet potatoes are my favorite, easy, cheap dinner. I eat one at least twice a week and was excited to venture away from my typical grilled veggie filling for a new variation on my savory sweet potato.


For 1 serving
1 medium sweet potato
2 teaspoons EVOO
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 1/2 cups, loosely packed brussel sprout leaves 
Salt & pepper
A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (Louisiana is the favorite brand of the Tucker's)

1. Rinse your sweet potato with warm water and then use a fork or knife to pierce the potato all over. Lightly dry the potato with a paper towel and then wrap the damp paper towel around the potato.
2. Place in microwave and cook on high for 5-6 minutes, then flip to other side and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
3. While your sweet potato is cooking, start to heat the EVOO over medium heat in a medium-sized sauce pan. When oil is hot, add the sesame seeds and cook until toasted, stirring often so not to burn them.
4. When there is 2-3 minutes left in microwave cook time, turn stove heat down to low and add brussel sprouts, salt and pepper, and a few dashes of hot sauce to sesame seeds and mix to cook.
5. When the sweet potato is finished cooking, remove from microwave, slice, and season with salt and pepper. Top with brussel sprout mixture, finishing it off with more hot sauce if you prefer. Annie and I both prefer more hot sauce, always.

Until next week's sweet potato. 

3.18.2014

Sun Spectrum

There is nothing like the anticipation of a new season. I know that I am tired of the cold weather, tired of my over worn sweaters, and am looking forward to embracing all the joys that come with Spring. I love the warm weather, I love pulling my sun dresses from the back of my closet, showing off a pedicure in sandals, and throwing on my favorite pair of sunnies for an easy outfit. Sunglasses are without a doubt my favorite accessory and I never leave home without at least two pairs in my purse.

That is why I was thrilled when Warby Parker asked me to help them debut their newest collection of sunglasses. The Spectrum Sun collection is exactly what I look for in a pair of sunglasses- high quality frames in fun and flattering colors. 

I have been swooning over Warby Parker sunglasses from the moment I first tried them on. During a summer vacation to the Hamptons with my family, we found a small boutique that carried vintage purses, unique jewelry, and Warby Parker glasses and sunglasses. It was there that I first learned about Warby Parker, their story, and their mission. Warby Parker not only makes stylish glasses and sunglasses, but recognizes that high-quality specks and shades  can be expensive. The clever folks over at Warby Parker have a way to cut out the expenses that drive up other brand's prices, leaving you with the same high-quality, totally stylish lenses at the best price. Not only does WP sell them at a great price, but for every pair of glasses purchased, Warby Parker distributes a pair of glasses to someone who can't afford them. As of this year, half a million glasses have been given to those in need.

So if the styles below aren't enough to make you pull out your credit card and order your favorite pair, the fact that when you buy a pair someone else is receiving one should be the added incentive to seal the deal.

Hall in Cherry Blossom - one of my favorites!




Minnie in Striped Sassafras - one of my favorites!

Piper in Revolver Black - one of my favorites!



Check out the Warby Parker website to see the entire collection and all the colors. The hardest part for me now is deciding which frames to order! I haven't bought a new pair of sunglasses in a few months so I know it is time for a new pair to help usher in Spring!

I might just have to try a few (5) pairs on!

3.17.2014

Spring Break

9:00 on Sunday night and I am tucked away in bed, wearing some of my oldest J. Crew pajamas, and eating a Sprinkles cupcake. I don't care what anyone else thinks, I fully believe that I live a perfectly glamourous life. I just finished a weekend filled with laughs, love, too much food, dancing, photo booths, cupcakes, and memories. It's weekends like these that I wish there were just a few more hours tacked on to Saturday and Sunday so I could keep this perfect weekend alive for a little bit longer.
photo

If you are reading this, that means it is Monday morning. You might be at work, at home on the couch, or enjoying a week off from school during Spring Break. This is the first year that I haven't had the liberty of enjoying a nice, week-long break during the spring but that doesn't mean I can't pretend. I have been spending way too much time browsing the Swimsuit category of my favorite online shops, perusing beach vacation spots on Travel + Leisure, and using the two weekends on either side of Spring Break as my mini vacation days. This week I was able to enjoy time in Dallas and employed my favorite motto while there, "I can eat whatever I want, I'm on vacation". This coming weekend I will be taking a three-day trip to Charleston, SC with my family where my motto will be in full force again!

No matter what you are doing this week, enjoy these links to get you through the dreaded Monday and be sure to check back tomorrow for a very exciting post!


Love this shoe for Spring

The Cronut inventor is at it again -  Milk and Cookies

A great article on bringing vacation home with you


ice cream sandwiches with a twist in flavor

The Oh Joy collection for Target just makes me so happy. 
Swooning over the pitcherice bucket, and everything else!

This is so beautiful. 

Must test these out

I haven't stopped listening to this song since I first heard it.

photo
Perfect Spring blogpost coming tomorrow!

3.13.2014

Coffee Talk & Tea Time

I usually try to make my own coffee each morning and then use the office coffee pot for my refills. As much as I would like to visit a coffee shop each morning, I know that my budget and morning timeline could not handle it. With coffee shop java costing me an average of $3 per trip, plus standing in line behind the mix of high schoolers and corporate crowd, a daily trip just isn't in the cards for me. 

This week was a little different and I admit that I have visited a coffee shop almost everyday. With the weather constantly changing in Oklahoma, that means I have also had very different drinks this week. Depending on the weather I have two caffeine-boosting drinks that I can't get enough of. As of recently I have given up most dairy products (ice cream is my favorite exception) and have been staying away from milk as much as possible. I don't enjoy drinking my coffee or tea plain so I have been using milk alternatives and truly believe they make the drinks so much better.
While basking in the beautiful weather (78 degrees!) on Tuesday, I ordered an iced almond milk chai tea latte (from Whole Foods) to keep me cool and refreshed while running errands for work. There is nothing better than a chai tea latter when it is warm out and the almond milk only makes it more delicious.

On Wednesday morning the weather was cooler so I ordered my new, favorite cold-weather drink. A regular coffee with steamed soy milk (or more specifically at Starbucks, a "grande pike with steamed soy for Kathleen" in which they always spell 'Cathline').  I have been ordering this all winter and I think it is close to the perfect cup of coffee. I definitely like a little "cream" in my coffee with just a hint of sweet and that is exactly what the soy milk adds to the coffee. 

If you are looking for a new cold or warm-weather drink or need a great dairy-alternative cup of caffeine I would recommend both of these!


Keeping you caffeinated, no matter what the weather.

3.06.2014

Sweet Potato, Chickpea, Tahini Bowl

There really isn't anything better than coming across a recipe that looks delicious and then realizing that you have all the ingredients in your pantry already. That happened to me today when I found this recipe and I knew that it was perfect for my dinner. Wednesday had been one of those days that no matter when and what I ate I would still be hungry 30 minutes later. My stomach felt empty all day and my co-workers could probably hear my stomach growling from down the hall. I knew that I needed something heavy and full of protein for dinner and this did the trick. Did I mention that I already had all the ingredients and didn't have to run to Whole Foods in the rain that started coming down as I left work. 


Sweet potatoes are a staple for my dinners (at least when I am just cooking for myself). Not only are they cheap, but also filling, and I can make one in less than 10 minutes in the microwave. This recipe required me to forgo my typical microwave technique but I knew that roasting the sweet potato in the oven would be worth it. All the components in this warm salad come together wonderfully and I know this salad will become a regular rotation for my "single-girl meals".


The most time consuming part of this recipe is waiting for the delicious sweet potatoes to come out of the oven. After that you simply pile all the ingredients in a bowl and top with the delicious, homemade tahini dressing and mix to combine. 


I can't wait to eat this again tomorrow!

The recipe is originally from Smitten Kitchen, so it's no wonder that I loved it

3.05.2014

Smile

Smile. Your mood will soon catch up.

Does that not seem like the perfect quote? 

Without fail, every year around this time I fall in to a major slump. I feel completely void of any inspiration and probably couldn't put together a good blog post if I tried. With the busyness that last month brought, I managed to blog one time. One time. While a part of me is slightly ashamed and embarrassed, the "glass-half-full" part of me is saying that one blog post is better than nothing! One blog post last month means that while I wish I could spend all day baking away for recipe posts and researching sites for fashion inspiration, I was busy at my jobs (doing things that I enjoy and challenge me) and building relationships and making memories with my friends in the evening and on the weekends. I don't want to make excuses for not blogging and don't feel that I need to. I refuse to let the lack of blog posts make me feel bad. 


I was busy in February and had an incredible month. February was great, with all it's holidays that I loved celebrating (Valentine's Day and National Margarita Day), it's cold weather that makes for the perfect excuse to curl up by the fireplace and use my hot chocolate maker, and the Olympics!


With February gone, (so quickly!) I am welcoming March with open arms. While we are currently still stuck in cold weather, I know that the warm weather is just around the corner. March brings spring fashion, wedding season (call me crazy, but I love it!), March Madness and bracket frenzy, a trip to Charleston with my family, and a weekend trip to Dallas. I don't care that almost every day of the weekend is already accounted for- I couldn't be more excited about these events and the people I get to experience them with!

Even though I felt in a slump and spent most of the last month freezing, I know that I also spent most of the month smiling. Maybe my blog gets neglected at times, but by putting a smile on and taking the time to sit down and write this post, I am already feeling more inspired and ready to take on this exciting month, and I promise to blog about it!

Just turning up the corners of your mouth can turn around your whole outlook. 

all images via Patterson Maker 


2.06.2014

Boyfriend Gift Guide

It's that time of the year again! The time of the year that females either dread, tolerate, or love.
 Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, which means that most girls are stressing about what to get their man friend. I haven't quite figured out what makes it so difficult to shop for guys but it has always been a struggle. Girls, on the other hand, are a breeze to shop for, in fact we are also really easy to please overall...

I can't claim to be an expert when it comes to shopping for guys, but I have done some research online, on other blogs, and with friends and my own man friend and think that I have put together some ideas to get you started. If you still need more ideas, check out my other boyfriend gift guide here

American Flag- Best Made Co. 
This website is full of cool ideas, including these other historic flags that are a great addition to a bachelor pad, camp supplies, and tools. Perfect for the rugged man in your life. 

The Hungover Cookbook - Barnes and Noble
A clever cookbook that starts with a quiz to determine your exact state of mind and ability to cook. The book categorizes six different types of hangovers and supplies recipes for each, including the Elvis Presley Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon Sandwich.

Baseball Henley - J.Crew
Give your man friend subtle hints with this gift- he should wear a little more J.Crew and a little less of that high school t-shirt he just won't get rid of. 

Ribbed Beanie - Bloomingdales
We still have six more weeks of winter, so he will need to bundle up with the help of this stylish and warm beanie. 

Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts
One thing that I have learned over all the years is that the easiest way to please a guy is through his stomach. If you want to keep it simple or need something small to add to your gift, hit your local grocery store and pic up a Valentine's themed bag of his favorite candy. 

ESPN's 30 for 30 - Dick's Sporting Goods
This box set includes all 30 episodes of the ESPN Film Series, including never-before-seen footage and interviews. The best part about this gift is that you can even join him on the couch to watch these- I've loved every one I have watched!

I usually recommend homemade treats and cookies but everything on this website looks delicious and perfect for Valentine's Day. This site has sandwich cookies, flavored marshmallows, brownies, and hot chocolate mixes. In fact, I wouldn't mind any of those things for myself, including this helpful tea towel.


If you are looking for recipes for homemade treats, I would suggest these-
Strawberry Shortcake - my favorite!






1.22.2014

Happiest Anniversary!


Today is A Peony for Your Thoughts 3rd Anniversary! 
I will be celebrating all day, starting with Starbucks and hopefully ending the day with a large cupcake. 
Thank you all for reading and encouraging me, especially those that have been loyal followers since the beginning- you will never know how grateful I am for your support!

Cheers to my longest relationship thus far!

1.21.2014

Thousand-Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had never heard of a Thousand-Layer Chocolate Chip cookie before, but the thought of a thousand layers of chocolate sounded like heaven. Making this cookie was unlike any baking technique I had ever tried before, but it was fun, different, and resulted in a delicious chocolate chip cookie (which I had been craving for days!)


In a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe you would mix together all the ingredients and fold in the chocolate chips at the very end, before rolling and placing on a baking sheet to cook. This recipe was similar to most chocolate chip cookie recipes until the end, when you kept the dough and chocolate separate. Instead of mixing the chocolate in to the dough, you create layers of dough and chocolate (hence the name "thousand layer") before rolling out the layers and cutting out with a cookie cutter. 


The only slight downfall for these cookies is that you are required to chill the dough before creating the layers.

Cookie recipes that require me to refrigerate the dough are tough for two reasons...
1. I don't have the patience to wait 30 minutes to an hour while the dough chills
2. I eat half of the dough while I am failing at being patient

Both of the above happened on Sunday night when I was making these cookies, but I still had enough dough to make 20 large cookies and I ate enough dough to give me a stomachache.


I received rave reviews from every one that got to eat one of these and they are already all gone (the last one was consumed while I wrote this post). Looks like I will be making this recipe again soon!

I might add pecans next time and call them Two Thousand Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies.

1.15.2014

Falafel and Baba

My sister and I are alike in so many ways. People say that we look alike and have the same mannerisms. We both love coffee, breakfast, blogs, baking, and now, calligraphy! When we shop together we usually end up in the dressing room with the same items and when we go out to eat we almost always want to order the same thing. We usually compromise and order different dishes so that we can eat off each other's plates, but there is one salad that we both order, no matter what, because we know that we won't share one bit with each other.

The Falafel Salad at Saturn Grill in Oklahoma City is a favorite for both of us. The mixed greens are topped with cucumber, tomato, kalamata olives, onions, and crunchy falafels and served with tahini and red pepper sauce. Annie and I both clean our plates everytime, practically scraping up the bits so as not to miss a crumb. After enjoying this dish together last week, we decided to recreate our favorite salad at home for our parents. For dinner, we paired the salad with baba ganoush served with toasted pita and fresh cucumber slices.


I am sharing the recipe for baba ganoush today, but head over to Annie's blog for the rest of the meal. 

I used a recipe for baba ganoush from one of my favorite posts from Marshall's Abroad. I would love to make this entire mediterranean feast one day, although lamb is one meat that I have not attempted yet.
To add a kick to the original recipe for this eggplant dip, I sprinkled in a pinch or two of cumin and a small squeeze of a lemon to add flavor. It was easy and perfect with warm pita and vegetables!




Baba Ganoush
1 large eggplant {or 2-4 japanese eggplants}, charred
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons EVOO
pinch of salt
about 1 tablespoon tahini
Roast the eggplants in the oven or char them on the bbq until they're darkened. Cool in cold water and drain. Peel the skins off and pulse the insides in a blender or food processor. Add in the remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve! Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.



Wishing I could have this meal again tonight. 


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