Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Homemade Decadence - Book Review

Joy the Baker was one of the first food bloggers I ever followed. She's still one of my very favorites, so when I had the chance to review her most recent cookbook, of course I jumped at the opportunity. Homemade Decadence is the follow up to her first cookbook, Joy the Baker, which I loved. Both are filled with sweet treats, a few savory bites, and many, many pounds of butter. 

Homemade Decadence has all of the important treats covered beginning with brunch and finishing with recipes for a late night bowl of ice cream. Not to mention all of the brownies, pies, cobblers, and cupcakes in between. I was drooling before I even opened the cover. That chocolate-peanut butter pretzel layer cake on the front is on my must-bake-soon list. But first, the vanilla bean confetti cookies had to happen. Who doesn't love a cookie covered in sprinkles? My nephews couldn't resist and neither could I. 

My only regret with this book is that it didn't come with a workout DVD for use after I try all of the delicious recipes. We all know this won't end well for my new year's fitness resolutions. Everything in moderation, right? Right. 

Seriously- go buy this book. Then invite your best friend over & indulge in one (or a few) of these amazing recipes.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


2014 was a relatively quiet year for me. There was quite a bit of gardening, a whole lot of cold weather (polar vortex, anyone?), some creating or baking, and a little bit of loss. The rhythm of life was slower than normal even though the year passed by quickly.

While it was nice to have a year where I could catch my breath & fly a little under the radar, I'm ready to jump head first into 2015 and make a few waves. Look out world, here I come.

Friday, October 3, 2014

sweet iron & wine

Last month, I made the trip to Bloomington to see Mr. Sam Beam, of Iron & Wine fame, with a friend. There was more time spent in the car than at the actual show, but it was well worth it. He played a solo, acoustic set mostly made of audience requests with a few of his newer songs mixed between. 

Bloomington is such a lovely town, but thanks to rush hour traffic, we didn't make it there in time for a proper dinner. Luckily, there was a cute little coffee chocolate shop located right next door. 

My friend bought each of us a french macaron, and let me tell you, it was the best macaron I've ever had. Granted, I have limited experience with macarons, but if I ever try my hand at baking these sweet treats, this would be my desired product. 

A few hours later, we were back on the road to home. The foggy, late night road to home that looked like something out of a horror movie. Spoiler alert: Everyone made it home with all of their extremities intact.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Goodbye summer. Hello September.

Hello again. Has it really been a year since I last posted on the blog? I guess a broken computer and slow internet will do that to a person.

Now armed with a new computer and faster internet, I'm excited to get back to blogging. And reading blogs too. Oh, how I've missed reading so many blogs.

The summer went by far too quickly. Most of my days, outside of work, were spent gardening, baking, sipping iced chai, or shopping flea markets with an occasional outdoor concert and weekly trips to the farmer's market.

The garden is winding down for the summer, but I have a feeling the baking is about to take off. Flea markets and outdoor concerts will soon turn into fall festivals. Iced chai will turn into pumpkin spiced chai lattes and the farmers market isn't going away anytime soon.

Here's to cooler temperatures and a brand new month.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rainy day in Columbus

Tim Horton's, Iced Capp, Tim Horton's Iced Capp,
A few weeks ago, I made the 2+hour drive over to Columbus, Ohio with my family for a little shopping. Tim Horton's was a mandatory, morning stop because their iced cappuccinos are amazing. And also because I can only find them in Ohio. Please open more Indiana locations, Tim Horton's!State of Nicole, Columbus, Columbus Ohio, Blueberries, Blueberry Farm
This blueberry farm was conveniently located next to the highway, so we couldn't pass it up. The looming storms kept us from picking our own. Instead, I came home with a five pound box of pre-picked berries. A few handfuls immediately went into the most delicious blueberry muffins I've ever made & the rest went into the freezer for future pancakes, muffins, & pies.
State of Nicole, Columbus, Columbus Ohio, Rainy Day, Rain, Columbus Rain, Book Loft, Columbus Ohio Book Loft, German Village
The Book Loft is my favorite shop in Columbus. I've blogged about it before, but I can't help it. This lovely path provides a peaceful walk to the entrance. Probably to make up for the chaos of navigating 32 rooms. I've finally mastered the path to the bathroom though. Priorities, people.State of Nicole, Columbus, Columbus Ohio, Rainy Day, Rain, Columbus Rain, Book Loft, Columbus Ohio Book Loft, German Village
On this particular visit, we found ourselves stuck by the entrance in the middle of an improv performance from a choir. I think it's probably the most interesting situation I've encountered while waiting for the rain to stop. State of Nicole, Columbus, Columbus Ohio, Rainy Day, Rain, Columbus Rain, Book Loft, Book Loft Rain, Flowers, Rain Flowers State of Nicole, Columbus, Columbus Ohio, Rainy Day, Rain, Columbus Rain State of Nicole, Easton Town Center, Columbus Ohio, LUSH, LUSHUSA, Columbus LUSH, Columbus Ohio LUSH
If you're a LUSH fan & find yourself within driving distance of Columbus, you need to make the trip to Easton Town Center to check out this location. I love LUSH and all, but the retail space is often so small that I almost feel claustrophobic. The windows in this one helped out big time. If only they'd expand all of their locations to be as spacious as the one up in Lincoln Park.
State of Nicole, Cabela's, Cabelas, Outdoor Store, Columbus Ohio, CBUS, Columbus, Columbus Cabelas
The boys on the trip decided we needed to visit the new Cabela's and stock up on gear for the upcoming hunting seasons. When I walk into this store it makes me want to buy & do "all the things". Hunting, fishing, camping, kayaking, and what not. All of it. Then I see the price tag and decide maybe I should just borrow dad's equipment and stick with my paper crafting.

Columbus is one of my favorite places to visit. If you have any suggestions for my next trip there, leave them in the comments!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

summer reading

summer reading

My summer manifesto reading assignment was completed with a little incentive from my local library's summer reading program. I don't have the budget to buy many books, so I take full advantage of the borrowing privileges at the library. Mine even allows us to check out eBooks. It's my preferred method of checkout when I decide to start a new book... at midnight.

The summer isn't technically over, but here's a quick recap of what I read:

1. The Namesake - I loved this book from the very beginning. Jhumpa's writing allows entire years to pass on single pages with so much ease. As much as I was a fan of the book, I wasn't a fan of the movie. Skip the cinema & pick up the read on this one instead.

2. Someday, Someday, Maybe - As a devoted Lauren Graham fan since the Gilmore days, I had to pick up her debut book. If you're a fan of Meg Cabot or Ann Brashares- I think you'll enjoy this one too.

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - I've tried to read this one a couple of times before, but the third time was the charm. It read like a science fiction novel minus the fiction part and added a new dimension to my view of the medical community and its practices.

4. My Name is Memory - I was a fan of the traveling pants series from Ann Brashares, so this was an unexpected read from her. I'd classify it as science fiction chick lit. It was a great read but had a horrible ending. Here's hoping Ann's publisher allows a sequel.

5. Interpreter of Maladies - In this one, Jhumpa combined several short, rather simple stories. It was like a peek into some very private but everyday moments. Each story was a quick read so I kept this one in my purse and pulled it out when I had time to spare.

6. The Last Summer (of You & Me) - I was looking for a great beach read, despite the lack of a beach, and this was it. The story itself was set on the beach, so even though I couldn't be there, I could imagine it.

Yesterday, I hit up my library's annual book sale. A full box of books for only $3. Can't beat that. My nephew filled up over half the box, but I managed to come out with at least five good reads.

Happy reading!

Friday, August 9, 2013

30 days of creativity 2013: finished!

30 days of creativity, 30doc 2013, #30doc
Day 1: Birthday tag, Day 2: herb garden markers, Day 3: painted sign, Day 4: mini bunting, Day 5: Cat scratcher, Day 6: Kitchen labels, Day 7: Cupcake batter for my cousin's graduation, Day 8: Frosted & decorated cupcakes for said graduation, Day 9: Sunday school craft, Day 10: Strawberry rhubarb pie, Day 11: Capri Sun wallet, Day 12: Party favors, Day 13: Homemade card, Day 14: Experimenting with my bread recipe, Day 15: Sewed a basket, Day 16: Strawberry shortcake for Father's Day, Day 17: Strawberries & cream pie, Day 18: Ice cream cookie sandwiches, Day 19: Painting at work, Day 20: Yay! card, Day 21: Bomb pop card, Day 22: Festive bunting, Day 23: Bookmark, Day 24: Mason jar tag, Day 25: festive card, Day 26: Flags for cupcakes, Day 27: Finishing my Cosco stool, Day 28: Work tags, Day 29: Pretty packaging, Day 30: Bumbleberry pie

30 projects in 30 days. There were days that I had to trick myself into "creating" something, but I finished! Checking another one off my Summer Manifesto.

For more 30 Days of Creativity goodness, check out the 30DOC site.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

eating from the garden

state of nicole, pico de gallo, pico de gallo from the garden, cilantro, tomatoes, indiana gardening, gardening, jalapeno, onion
Despite my lack of blogging, I've actually made progress on my summer manifesto. A couple weeks ago, I was able to check off making a meal from the garden. Literally enjoying the fruits of your labor is the best thing ever.

The pico de gallo wasn't part of the actual dinner, but it was just as delicious. I whipped up a batch for lunch from the garden using our tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, and cilantro. If only I had a lime tree, I'd be set. I may have been working a little too quickly, hence the seeds that accidentally made it into the pico. Whoops!
indiana gardening, state of nicole, carrots, gardening carrots, homegrown carrots
No, these carrots weren't supermarket pretty but they were a tasty part of the meal I prepared.state of nicole, indiana gardening, indiana, gardening, herb garden, indiana herb garden, roast chicken, roasted chicken
For dinner, I made rosemary lemon roast chicken with roasted root vegetables รก la Pioneer Woman. I smothered chickens, from a friend's farm, with a butter, lemon zest, and rosemary (from the herb garden) mixture. I chopped carrots, red onion, and celery all from the garden and tossed them with a little olive oil, salt, and rosemary. The potatoes would have been another garden addition, but there was already a bag of russets waiting to be used. Waste not, want not. So I left the garden potatoes in the ground. state of nicole, indiana gardening, indiana, gardening, herb garden, indiana herb garden, roast chicken, roasted chicken, pioneer woman, pioneer woman roasted chicken, root vegetables, rosemary lemon chicken, rosemary chicken
And voila! Not the prettiest photo, but my family was too hungry to wait for decent photos. It was moist and delicious and will definitely be making another appearance in the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

life on the weekend

farmers market, farmers market muffin, muffins, muffin basket, basket of muffins,
The weather was perfect this weekend. Perfect for a visit to the farmers market & a grad party. Muffins are my breakfast of choice for a market visit. This vendor makes the best carrot muffins I've ever had. I purchase one every single time I visit.
The garden is all planted so there was no need for these plants, but they were so lush & green that I couldn't resist taking a photo.
After passing this vendor up for a couple of weeks, I decided to purchase a bag of the egg noodles. Do you see that list of flavors? They all smell amazing. I decided to go with a fan favorite, garlic. If all goes well, next time I'll bring lime cilantro & spinach noodles home with me.
I baked 4+ dozen cupcakes for my cousin's high school graduation party. She was the baby of the family for so long, I can't believe she's graduated. She had such a great time celebrating with family and friends. I'm excited to see where this journey takes her.

In unrelated news, I'm kind of a little more than a lot excited for Monster's University. I'm quite the fan of Monsters Inc. Also- new music from The Civil Wars. Seriously- go check that out.

Friday, June 7, 2013

donut days

donut, national donut day, vintage tablecloth, dutch tablecloth, donut sprinkles

Friday started with this lovely gem of a sugar filled, calorie laden treat. But it's national donut day, right? Who can argue with a holiday dedicated solely to donuts? (Although, I strongly suspect the donut makers themselves have something to do with this.)

See that pretty tablecloth underneath? That was a whole other kind of treat. I found it in a little shop while running errands with my mom & nephews. Shortly after, we bought a few donuts & pulled into a park to put that pretty tablecloth to use. We looked a little crazy, but that's pretty much the norm.

This weekend is looking like the good kind of busy. Cupcakes to bake for my cousin's graduation party. Farmer's markets to attend. Kid crafts to plan for Sunday school. Followed by a Monday with absolutely zero commitments. I can't wait.


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