Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Palm Springs Instagram-Style

A collection of iPhone pics of our vacay…



Chicken a la Arnold family & tomato salad a la Jenny P – Early morning quiet – My brother the computer programmer whiz

Peach & Sausage breakfast bake – Poolside blogging – Starbucks destination walk

Café Rio goodness – Palm Springs Aerial Tram – Hiking – Time to Go

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Palm Springs: February Break 2012

We had a really wonderful time in Palm Springs.  You know how some people like to go on vacation and do lots of activities and some like to go on vacation and lay low, and the result of those different types of people going on vacation together is that everyone ends up feeling a teensy bit grumbly about their vacation expectations or concerned about other people’s vacation expectations?  Yea, that…. didn’t happen.  This trip was one of those rare vacations where there were activities for the activity people and lounging for the lounging people, and just enough occasions to meet in the middle where everyone was happy.

Weird, a family vacation where everyone was happy?

Myself, I’m about 75% do nothing, 25% do something on vacations.  I love vacations for the chance to sleep without an alarm clock, catch up on books or writing, and lay by a pool / beach / lake.  Give me water, cold drinks and printed words and I’m a happy girl.  After 3 days of literally doing nothing except reading and catching up on my blog writing, I decided maybe my laziness was getting a little out of hand and my mom and I went for a walk.  I plotted a course to the nearest Starbucks and back and it turned out to be a 5 mile walk.  (In the desert.  It was hot.)  But it actually felt really great to move, and that’s where I realized my 25% do-something has to come in to play on vacations too. 

We also took a short road trip up the highway to go to Café Rio (a must on every west coast visit) as well as a nearby outlet mall, went out to dinner a few nights, explored downtown Palm Springs and did the Aerial Tram and a short hike through San Jacinto State Park.  Since we were staying in a house, I brought a handful of recipes I had had in my saved files forever and hadn’t had a chance to try, and made my family be a guinea pig for my culinary adventures. 

Matt, who is probably about 75% do something and 25% do nothing on vacation, went golfing 3 out of the 5 days.  Palm Springs is apparently some of the nicest golfing in the whole country, so he was pretty content with these outings.  My Dad and brother-in-law went golfing too, and my sister and brother spent a few days doing some long hikes in preparation for their summer backpack trip to Yosemite.  My mom and I vacation pretty similar, so she was my reading buddy, cooking buddy, perusing baby-stuff-online buddy, chatting about life buddy and 5-mile walk buddy.  She might have not appreciated that last one as much as I did though!

All in all, it was a pretty great vacation considering – you know – how spending 5 days with your 7 family members in 1500 square feet could go.  Everybody left a little more relaxed, tan and content. 



A few pictures from one of the nights we went out to eat in downtown Palm Springs


My morning routine: some light reading by the pool plus I love the view of the mountains past the palm trees!


Culinary adventures (shrimp, tomato & feta pasta // summer rice salad)




Took the aerial tram to the top of San Jacinto Mountain and looked down into Coachella Valley.  Then we hiked a short trail {in the snow, despite the fact that it was 88 down in the valley!} to some overlook points.


My mom & brother played a lot of backgammon and they talk smack to each other all week in between games.  The evenings were pretty low-key… even vacations require some cable & wi-fi time!


Time to go home…

Monday, February 20, 2012

The One in Which I Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

Pinterest: the place where I am most likely to get inspired, in over my head, buy too much at Hobby Lobby or Whole Foods and make a big mess.

But this time I was actually successful with a pin!  I keep seeing pins for homemade laundry detergent and I don't know why, but the idea just intrigued me.  I told Matt it was because I wanted to find a way to save money since the cost of laundry detergent makes me think it must be made out of powdered unicorn horns, and he said "Let's be honest - you just want another craft to do."
I reviewed a bunch of the different recipes and saw a general overlap of two options: one that involved boiling stuff and the other that involved mixing dry stuff.  I went with the latter.
Here's the recipe I followed.

I'm happy to report it was easy, successful and very satisfying. I made a huge tub from one Fels-Naptha soap bar that cost 99 cents that should last 40 loads.  The arm and hammer soap and Borax each cost $4 and have enough for many, many loads to come.  (If any of my local friends want to try this, I'll give you a cup of the Borax and A&H soap.  I feel like I'm going to have these boxes around for awhile.)  So far, everything I've washed has come out clean to my satisfaction.  I was a little nervous, because in the past I've used some eco-friendly (Seventh Generation, Method) detergents and they didn't get out cooking oil which is my #1 stain.  I'm a messy cook.  So far, this has not let me down.  I do still have one box of Tide that I'm keeping on hand, and I figure if I have any heavy soiled items or a stain that won't come out with this, I'll use that for back up. 


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Maple & Sea Salt Pecans

I am way, way overdue in posting this but I wanted to share a recipe/tutorial from something I made for Christmas.  (Yes, Christmas – you should see how far back my “to be blogged” folder goes.  Oye.)  Anyways, I wanted to make a food gift to give to the wonderful people at my puppy dog’s daycare who love on him oh so much.  And then recipe turned out to be so good I gave a batch to my father-in-law and I think maybe my brother too.  I lost track of who I gave it to – it was nuts.

Get it?  Nuts?

Okay, sorry.  Onwards!  This was a big hit, and if you want something different from cookies or other sweets to give at the holidays, I’d highly suggest this.

Or to just make for your own eating pleasure. 

The recipe came from Food & Wine magazine.  Here’s the original link but I’ll post directions here too.


  • 4 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature


The How To:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast until they are fragrant, about 10 minutes. Let the pecans cool. Lower the oven temperature to 250°.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the pecans with the maple syrup, butter, salt, cayenne and black pepper. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add the egg white to the pecans and toss well.
  • Spread the pecans on the lined baking sheets in a single layer. Bake for 40 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown. Immediately loosen the pecans from the paper with a spatula. Let cool completely on the baking sheets before serving.

They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week – if you can resist them that long.


(Glass jars from IKEA)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Real World Palm Springs

I love going on vacation and staying in a home – you’ve got your own kitchen to make a mess in, rooms to retreat to when your vacation companions are on your nerves (what? it happens) and sometimes even a washer and dryer.  Plus, I just love houses – I’m addicted to Zillow and Trulia – so it’s fun to explore a new house.  We’ve always had good luck using VRBO even though it’s a bit of a gamble.  It’s like buying a house sight unseen – you’re going off pictures and descriptions and crossed fingers and hoping the place you’re calling home for a week isn’t going to end up a total lemon.

We lucked out again with the place my parents booked in Palm Springs.  It’s a cute ranch, very modern, lots of bedrooms and my favorite part – a kitchen that looks right out into the family room and dining area.  I love cooking on vacations when you’ve got time and energy to explore new recipes and I was very excited to see this layout.

We walked around like we were contestants on the Real World, claiming bedrooms, opening cupboards and exploring our new home for the week.  I took a handful of pictures of the house before we do what my family does – starts leaving books, flip flops, sweatshirts, computers, etc on every surface.  I actually wanted to pin some of these pics, so it served a selfish purpose.  But I do love this little house we’re calling home for a week!




Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Basic Math

2 + 1 = 3.  Basic math.

So why do I have a feeling life is about to get more complicated?


Baby Cline, due mid-August! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One of the {Many} Reasons I Love Social Media

It’s no secret I love social media – especially Twitter and Instagram.  There are many reasons, but it mostly comes down to the feeling of connectedness that these forums can create. 

Right before Valentine’s Day, Starbucks switched their regular cups to Valentine’s Day themed one.  I noticed one morning, all on the same morning, that six of my friends on Instagram had taken pictures of their cups.  Six!  As I scrolled through the pics that day, I couldn’t help giggling at the world that social media has created – that something as silly as a Starbucks cup can create a shared moment among people.  It’s just a small example, but it sort of encapsulated one of the many reasons I love social media.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jenny!

Just like last year, the winos (minus new momma Shelb) converged on Raleigh to celebrate the birthday of the fabulous Jenny.  This was a big birthday too… the big 3-0!  I love what Jess said about our get together, so I’m just going to straight up plagiarize her: “Words cannot describe what glimmers of happiness fall on this otherwise dreary winter month when we are together.” (Jess, if I knew how to use EndNote I would create a proper reference for you.) 

We had dinner at a great Mexican place, Dos Taquitos, on Friday night in downtown Raleigh.  There was a long wait for dinner, but luckily we had months of conversations to catch up.  Well, sort of.  We email every day (yes, every day) so we’re all pretty caught up on each other’s lives…but some stories are so good, we reserve them until we’re together in person. 


I swear I actually did take some people-pictures at dinner, but I didn’t have the flash turned on on my phone so they didn’t come out good.  So, look! Food!  (It was good – tacos carnitos!)

Saturday morning, we lounged around at Emily’s house and got to spend some quality time with our wino niece, Claire, who just turned one (one!!!) a few weeks ago.  She is an absolute doll.  Doggy Coleman had to get in some snuggle time too, of course.


Later on, we went to grab lunch and watch yet another miserable Wake Forest basketball game.  Actually, our seats ended up being in a spot where the TV was really hard to see and none of us complained.  Sometimes it’s better just not to watch these things unfold. 


Before dinner, Jenny took us to this great place in downtown Raleigh called The Raleigh Wine Shop that did tastings.  You loaded a card and paid per the ounce to taste various wines.  I’ve just started noticing places like this popping up and I think it’s absolutely genius.  There was even a couch in the back with crayons and a coloring table – I’m not really sure what audience they were aiming for, but I took it upon myself to tap into my crafty side.





After the tastings, we had dinner at Humble Pie (a tapas restaurant) and then went out downtown to eek every little last bit of celebration out of the night. 

Weekend getaways with your best friends always go way too fast, and Sunday morning was here before I knew it.  We’d been counting down to this trip for so long and by Monday all of us were emailing that we had post-wino-vacay-blues.  I’ve been best friends with these girls for over a decade now (!!) and when we get together, it’s as if the time and distance since our last visit vanishes and we pick right up where we left back off.  I am so blessed with their friendships, and I’m so thankful that we each make the effort to get together a couple times of year since college.  I’m glad we were there to ring in Jenny’s 30th with her, and I’m already counting down to our next getaway.