Saturday, December 29, 2012

christmas this year.

some snaps of the holidays this year with my family.

such good people.

good times.

and of course, good food.


mama & heidi


roasted carrot soup. (:


sometimes i worry my dad is too serious...


everyone's favorite cone-kitty, mr. charlie

i hope your holidays were filled with family and warm memories.

wishing you the best for 2013

love, jordan & steph


my husband is downstairs playing the piano

there are some sweet potatoes roasting in the oven.

i have my bunny slippers on.

life is good.

a little peek at christmas at our house

Sunday, December 9, 2012


so it's been about a month since we arrived home from our fabulous trip to spain...and already i find myself dreaming of our next adventure.

i am so pumped for all of the trips we have ahead of us.  being dreamers and travelers {but mainly dreamers}, jordan and i talk constantly about new places to visit, people to meet, and {of course} food to try. 

we have collected a little wishlist of trips for the years ahead...i know they are a while off, but it never hurts to start getting excited early (:

top on our list:
a wedding next summer in lake tahoe {woop woop!  yay jonathan and claire!}
a family trip with my parents in 2015 {destination: surprise!}
a family trip with our little ones across the US {i did this when i was younger and we moved from CA to FL ...it was awesome}
southeast asia...a MUST

like i said, we're dreamers. 

where are you going next?  where have you been?  where should we consider? 

happy wandering, friends!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

veggie mac + cheese

this is hands down one of the most favorite meals in this house.

we don't make it too often, since it's not exactly good for you {however i feel that the veggies and whole wheat pasta help a little, right?  right? } anyway, when we do make it, it's a real treat.

hope you enjoy!

1 pound whole wheat pasta {we like penne}
2 bell peppers, any color
1 medium sweet onion
2 zucchini squash
6-8 crimini mushrooms
3 cups marinara {homemade or store-bought}
about 1 1/2 cups cheese: any combination of fontina, gruyere, comte or mozz works well
herbs of your choice
salt & pepper
olive oil

*1/2 cup parm
*1 cup breadcrumbs
*1-2 tablespoons butter

*optional ingredients in case you choose to make the breadcrumb topping...we usually leave it off, but it sure is good (:  



*breadcrumbs: melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat; stir the breadcrumbs in to coat with the butter.  stir in the parm, and set aside, off of the heat.

put a large pot of salted water on the stove and start bringing it to a boil. 

next, grate your cheeses and set them aside.

start by washing and then chopping all of your veggies to about the same size: one to one and a half inches is good.  when you cut the onions, make sure you slice them "pole to pole"...this way they won't be stringy as they cook.  

do you know how to wash mushrooms?  i think they're a pain to wipe off with a wet paper towel, but i was always told that you should not soak them, etc...however i found this note that seems to indicate that as long as the dirt is gone, the method used doesn't really matter.  do what you like (:  

arrange the veggies on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and add a little salt and herbs.  i like herbes de provence, however simply adding salt and pepper would be great.  

put the vegetables in a 300 degree oven to roast for about 20 minutes, checking and stirring once in a while...you don't want them to be too brown, just softened a bit.

while the vegetables are roasting, your water should be close to a boil...add your pasta, but only cook for 6-7 minutes {it will cook more while it bakes}. when the pasta has cooked, strain it and place into a {very} large bowl...or you might use two bowls.

when the veggies are roasted, add these to the bowl{s} of pasta.  next, add the cheese and marinara.  mix it up! you want to distribute the cheese evenly over all of the other ingredients.

when everything is mixed, divvy the deliciousness into either one 9x13 baking dish or two smaller baking dishes.
{we use 2 smaller dishes and save one for another day's dinner!}

*if you want to add the breadcrumb topping, top the pasta mixture with the crumbs now and pat lightly.

cover the dishes with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes {ovens vary}...we rotate the dishes while they cook.  when you have about 10 minutes to go, take the foil off to let things brown up a bit.  the crumbs are a good indicator here: when they are golden, you're good to go (:

serve immediately and enjoy!

{if you made two dishes, let the second pan cool, then cover again with foil and pop that in the fridge for another day.  reheat covered at 350.  they keep well for up to 2 days in the fridge}

happy eating!!


Monday, December 3, 2012

spain: practically.

having taken a handful of trips {both together and solo}, j and i consider ourselves more or less seasoned...you know, like a good cast iron skillet.

we certainly don't know everything and lord knows we've made some mistakes {remind me to tell you sometime about trying to fly on a friend's ticket: not recommended}, but over the years we have developed some tips and tricks that seem to make travel work for us.

as always, take this with a grain of salt: what we do might not be your cup of tea...and also, please let me know if you have any specific tips of your own, or if you have any questions!



the destination or destinations {lucky duck} are what is set about your trip.  
*for this post, i'm focusing on spain, however a more comprehensive travel post is in the works!


this part can get a little tricky.  most places you will visit will have a "high season", a "low" or "off season", and something that for whatever reason is called a "shoulder season".  unless you're going somewhere like paris which only knows the high season, ha.  the trick is figuring out when the seasons "change" for your destination.  generally speaking {for europe} november through april is the off season, october and may are the shoulders.  june through september are hopping, and note: europe as a whole just about closes down in august, so keep that in mind.

we have made a point to travel within the shoulder/off seasons for our past few trips.  true: not all of the shops will be open, but you also won't have to fight for space with a million other people.  it's more manageable, and in a lot of cases, cheaper.  we got about a 20% discount off of our apartments since we got there after 1-november.   not bad.


unless you're taking a cruise, getting to spain involves some type of air travel.   skyscanner has been my go-to for finding the cheapest flights, and this is what i used to find our tickets for spain.  other good sites which i belong to are kayak and airfarewatchdog.  both of these sites send you updates throughout the week, and you can receive alerts when a saved route goes on sale.

skyscanner offers domestic and international flights, is very easy to use, and you do not have to purchase through them to receive the advertised price.   

NOTE: flights go quickly on this site and that "too good to be true" price probably is, so after i search, i go to the website of the host carrier and order directly from them.  this way should anything happen with my flight, i won't have the hassle of working through a third party.  

i also do recommend travel insurance.  this is something i scoffed at when i was in college {mainly b/c who could afford it?}, but now it gives me that extra feeling of security.  i know, i'm getting so old!

how else?

what else do you plan to do in spain?   

spain has one of the best run train systems i've used.  the trains are on time, extremely clean, and ticket purchasing is very straightforward.  also, the rail company of spain {renfe} offers a special promo for non-spanish citizens...the Spain Pass!  passes can be purchased at the stations {the online purchase did not work for me}...just know that once you have your pass, you will still need to "reserve" your place on the train of your choice.  you will of course not pay for a this reservation {you've already paid for the pass (: }, but seats are assigned, so you will need a record of your place on the intended train.  again, this is easy and there are plenty of signs in the stations to direct you to the proper ticket counter.

NOTE: if you're thinking about seeing more of europe, easyjet and ryanair are great for cheap inter-european travel, however be advised: these are seriously no-frill airlines. 


i briefly mentioned way to stay in a previous post.

 this site offers apartment rentals in major european cities, and we loved it.  we decided to get an apartment since there were 5 of us traveling, and we wanted the option of more space, a kitchen, and the best part: a washing machine.  yes! we brought half of the amount of clothes we usually would since we knew we would be able to wash clothes while we were over there.   we booked both of our apartments through waytostay {barcelona & madrid} and were very happy with the accommodations both times.

NOTE: spain does have an energy crisis, and thus does not have clothes dryers, however most every place that offers a washer has a drying rack.  

 little extras

cell phones: j and i have our phones from when we lived abroad, so for us it was as easy as buying a new sim card {20 euro} and plugging it in.  however, if you don't have a phone no worries.  you can usually find a kiosk in the larger rail stations {i would advise not to buy from the lady hawking them at the airports}, or otherwise cell phone stores are plentiful on the streets.  if you don't want or need a cell phone, definitely get a skype account- it's always good to stay connected. 

metro systems: use them.  often, it's very easy and economical to buy a 10-pass ticket, for example.  you can usually share this between people, and the cost works out to be less than 10 individual tickets.  win-win. 

anything else?

yes, i'm sure i've overlooked something interesting, but bear with me, i still have medicine-head (:

please let me know your feedback or any question you have.

i am happy to help!

happy travels! 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

sick day.

sorry for the delay in my spain posting...we have been a little under the weather at this house.

hopefully we feel like going out today however, since i feel like a christmas tree is just what we need to perk up the mood! (:

what are you up to this weekend??