April – June Goals

Photo courtesy of Death to Stock Photo
Photo courtesy of Death to Stock Photo


How are your New Years’ Resolutions going? I’ve been doing really well with some, and not so well with others. But I really like having these quarterly goals so I can check in with how my resolutions have been fitting into my life and which ones need tweaking.


Here are my “big” 2015 Resolutions:


  • Write everyday – I haven’t necessarily written every day, but I did finally start writing my novel and have made some definite progress, so I’m pretty happy with how this resolution has been going!
  • Keep a reading log – I fell into a reading slump a few weeks ago, but I made it to the library this weekend, so I’m excited to add some more titles to my log!
  • Be kinder to myself – I’ve been working on this one, but Teddy has definitely reminded me to be nicer to myself when I’m beating myself up over something. I really appreciate having someone to point out when I’m falling into bad habits!
  • Learn new things – I haven’t made any huge discoveries, but I have been experimenting in the kitchen pretty frequently lately, and I’ve really enjoyed it! I love adding new recipes to our list of favorites.


One thing I’m really proud of is that I’ve been eating healthier (generally) and I’ve been exercising 3-5 times a week. I didn’t make any express resolutions to exercise more, but I’ve been doing some POP Pilates online videos for beginners and I really like them! They’re so short that I can’t make excuses to not do them, but they’re still hard enough to kick my butt in just a few minutes. I also really like that I can do them in my own living room so that I don’t have to be embarrassed if I fall on my butt every now and then. I totally recommend them!


This year I really want to work on my health (I loved this post about having a healthy + strong 2015). I want to feel strong and healthy and more daring, so I can be more adventurous and active than I am now. My goal isn’t to look thinner — I’m hoping to look healthy and happy, and if I slim down a little in the process, great! I definitely won’t be complaining if I can fit into my old jeans from high school again!


Besides my health goals, when I was thinking about my goals April – June, the word “intentional” kept popping up. I want to build on all the hard work I’ve been putting in so far and push myself to make some more positive changes. I’m excited!


Here are my goals for Spring (April – June) 2015:


  • Be intentional about unplugging at night and on the weekends
  • Make thoughtful purchases – we’ve already been working on spending wisely, but since we have some trips and big purchases coming up soon (hellooo new bed!), I want to be really intentional with how I spend my money
  • Make dinner plans for the weekend (and stick to them instead of going out!)
  • Eat more seafood
  • Make hospitality and entertaining a priority

What about you? Do you have any goals you’re working towards?


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Weekend Thoughts / 12

Baby lambs


I got a chance to go to the Houston Rodeo championship last Saturday and it was so much fun, even though it rained the entire day! I tried a fried Oreo for the first time and saw the cutest calves, lambs, and piglets (and have about 1,000 photos on my phone to prove it). I had NO idea how big the Houston Rodeo is — the competition takes place in the Houston Texans stadium, so there were over 70,000 people there to watch. I could hardly believe it! If you’re ever in Houston in March, I definitely recommend buying a ticket. It doesn’t get much more “Texas” than the Houston Rodeo!


Here are some of my favorite links from the past week:



I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since the last time I was in Chattanooga! I’ll be back in June for a friend’s wedding, and in case I wasn’t excited enough already, Laura Gummerman’s post about her recent trip to Chattanooga has me full of nostalgia . Apparently a coffee shop called Milk & Honey opened after I moved away, so I’m definitely making a note to go there!


Speaking of trips, I heard a lot about Alpharetta, Georgia while I was going to school in Lookout Mountain, but I never made the trek to see it for myself. After reading about Tim and Shanna’s babymoon to Alpharetta it’s definitely on my list of places to visit.


Molly’s photos from her honeymoon trip to Europe are slowly killing me — I guess I caught the travel bug! Her photos from Lucerne  are absolutely stunning, and now I’m really curious about Swiss coffee.



I’m really excited for an Easter baking project that I’ll be working on this weekend, but in the meantime, I can’t get over how cute this Speckled Egg Cake is!


I’m usually pretty good at following recipes, but I’ve definitely forgotten a step and rushed to get an ingredient prepped and measured in time. Not fun. So when I saw that Emily mentioned  a how-to guide on reading a recipe, I thought why not? Turns out Joy has some great tips for reading recipes.


Writing & Creating:

I loved Laura Holway’s take on the importance of hobbies and just-for-fun projects.

I loved Cat Rambo’s Five Things I Learned Writing Beasts of Tabat, and I’ll definitely have to add her new book to my reading list!


And I can’t resist adding one more photo from the rodeo. This little guy was the most adventurous lamb, and he was climbing all over the hay bales and it was so cute!



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Cardamom Orange Mini Madeleines

Spring has sprung in Houston, and it has me daydreaming about picnics and tea parties and pretty floral dresses. And if I know anything about tea parties, I know that you need a yummy dessert to go with your tea. And, if you happen to have one, maybe a bunny plate to serve your desserts on.


Bunny Plate


I’ve had a mini madeleine pan on my wish list for a while, and we finally made it to a Sur La Table and bought one. Teddy and I have been trying to bake in smaller batches, so that we won’t have a whole cake or a whole pie sitting around tempting us all week. So while a madeleine pan was definitely a splurge, I’m excited that I can experiment with flavors without having to feel guilt about having cake around all the time. Plus they seem so fancy, which is perfect for a tea party.


I used Emma Gardner’s recipe for Maple Nutmeg Mini Madeleines, but since it’s spring, I wanted to try a different flavor combination. I’ve been wanting to bake with cardamom, and I thought orange and vanilla would go with the cardamom really well. The madeleines are bright and citrusy and perfect for spring. And they’re so small that I don’t feel bad about eating at least four!


Cardamom Orange Mini Madeleines

Adapted slightly from Emma Gardner’s Maple Nutmeg Mini Madeleines (with flavors inspired by Sarah Kieffer’s Cardamom Pound Cake)


Makes 20+ madeleines

65g unsalted butter (plus more for tin)
50g powdered sugar
20g almond meal/ flour
20g all purpose flour (plus more for tin)
45g egg white (about 1.25 – 1.5 eggs worth)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
Few shavings of fresh nutmeg or a dash of ground nutmeg
Zest of 1/2 an orange (I used a Cara Cara)
To make the batter:

Brown the butter: cut butter into slices and melt in a small pot with a light-colored bottom over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After the butter is melted, continue stirring and wait for the butter to hiss and get foamy on top. After the foam dissolves a little, watch for some white flecks to appear at the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir until the flecks turn a nice brown color and the butter smells nutty. Pour butter into a small bowl, making sure not to leave any brown flecks behind, and set aside to cool. Butter browns really quickly, so you definitely don’t want to walk away from the stove! If you’ve never browned butter before, Emma’s guide is really helpful.


Sift the powdered sugar, flour, almond meal into a large bowl and whisk together. Whisk in egg whites. In a small bowl, stir vanilla, cardamom, sea salt, nutmeg, and orange zest together, then whisk into the batter. Whisk in the brown butter a little at time, so that it incorporates into the batter easier. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.


Brown Edges


Believe it or not, I didn’t “test” that madeleine. It actually slipped out and fell into the bottom of the oven. So be careful, because they might try to escape!


To bake the madeleines:

Preheat oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour tins, making sure to get all the \nooks and crannies. Put little dollops of batter into each mold so that they’re about 3/4 of the way full. The batter is sticky after chilling in the fridge, so I like to use a teaspoon to get a little scoop, and then use another spoon to nudge the batter into its spot.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, until the edges are brown and each madeleine has a hump in the middle. Flip madeleines out onto a plate and serve.


FLowers + Bunny Plate



– These are best within an hour or two of coming out of the oven, so you can make the batter ahead of time and then bake them off right before you want to serve them.

– I got my mini madeleine tin here. If you’d rather not buy a single-use kitchen gadget, I think adding some cardamom and orange zest to vanilla cupcakes or shortbread would be equally great!

-If you’re looking at the measurements wondering why they’re in grams, it’s because the original recipe is in grams, and the amounts were really finicky in volume measurements. I’m hoping to be able to give both weight and volume measurements for baking recipes in the future (and possibly update this recipe), but trying to figure out these measurements was giving me a headache.

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Reading Lists (and Reader Guilt)

Can I make a confession? I have been in a major reading rut lately. I was really excited to read Paris, 1970, but then I unexpectedly got stuck after just a few chapters. Maybe because I haven’t read very much M.F.K. Fisher? Oops. I’m hoping to come back to the book at some point, but right now I’m not ready for it yet. After I put Paris, 1970 back on the shelf, I started thinking about what to read next.


Brunch and Jane Austen


This time last year, I was knee-deep in essays and books and articles about Jane Austen for my bachelor’s thesis, so I was craving a return visit to Longbourne and Netherfield. But I kept telling myself that I should really read something new instead of re-reading Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time. I felt guilty about never (ever) finishing my self-imposed reading lists and guilty about my tendency to pick nostalgic reads over new/ exciting/ challenging books. But then I realized that I was feeling guilty about the books I choose to read. While I think it’s great to pick up a new book that will make you think, I don’t want to waste time and emotional space on reader guilt because I decided to read an old favorite. Is it really so bad to re-read an old favorite instead of half-heartedly trying to read a book I “should” be reading?


I can follow a reading list for a class, but for personal reading I almost always read based on my mood, which can be interesting when I pack 3+ books for a road trip (I wish I was kidding). It also makes it really hard to follow a reading list, even if I made it up. I have a tendency to put books on my list that I “should” read, instead of books I want to read. But at the same time, I don’t want to miss out on a great book because I wasn’t in the mood to pick it up.


Another factor that makes choosing a book tricky is the fact that I’m working on my own novel — so far I’ve been avoiding books that are from the same genre unless I’m deliberately looking for inspiration. I don’t want to distract from the story and world I’ve been trying to immerse myself in.


Right now I’m almost to the third “book” of Pride and Prejudice, and I’m loving that I don’t have to take notes while I read it! It makes reading about the social gaffes and misunderstandings so much more enjoyable. After I finish Pride and Prejudice I’m  hoping to finally get my hands on Good Omens. It’s been on my to-read list for a while, and since Terry Pratchett’s death I thought it was about time for me to read it.


What about you — do you ever have reader guilt? How do you balance reading “for fun” books with serious books? Or balance reading with writing? I’m all ears! Also maybe the most important question of all, who is your favorite character from Pride and Prejudice? I love Elizabeth and Jane Bennet, but I also have a huge soft spot for Caroline Bingley. I love how snobby and manipulative she is, and I think she’s one of Jane Austen’s best antagonists.


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Weekend Thoughts / 11


Yellow Ranunculus


I don’t know about you, but I am SO excited for spring! It’s going to be rainy this weekend, but after an unexpectedly sunny week I’m actually looking forward to cuddling up and having a quiet weekend in. There was so much good stuff on the internet this week (or internest, if you type too fast like I do). Here are some of my favorites:


Some bloggers/ bakers seem really intimidating, like if you baked something for them it had darn well better be perfect. But I’m pretty sure if you baked Joy Wilson a cake and it sank in the middle, she would give you a hug, put some ice cream in the middle, and eat it with you right out of the pan. She’s definitely one of my favorite internet people, and her guide for how to be a better baker is the next best thing to having her over for a baking date.


I’ve been on the look-out for gluten-free recipes lately because one of our church friends has celiac’s disease, and my Mom has been trying to eat less gluten because it affects her joints. These 9 Resources for Gluten-Free Cooking look like great places to start! First on the agenda: a gluten-free pie crust that doesn’t start with “Take 1 cup gluten-free flour…” Because that seems too easy somehow.


Joanna Goddard’s 4 year-old son Toby has always been curious about grown-up dates. So she brought him along on a date with her husband so he could see what it  was like, and it’s officially the cutest thing ever.


Who wants to have a DIY Graphic T-Shirt -making party with me?


Speaking of graphic shirts, these shirts with French sayings are so cute!


I really appreciated Chuck Wendig’s take on the fear that your story won’t be as good written down as it is in your head, because I’ve been dealing with that as I’ve started actually writing my novel.


Since I’ve been focusing on my writing lately, I’m craving a second creative outlet that’s just for fun. I’ve always loved watercolor painting, and after reading Mandy Kellogg Rye’s thoughts on her painting class with Britt Bass Turner, I’m thinking that it’s time to pull out my paint brushes again.


This home tour is super cute and livable at the same time, and I’m kind of obsessed with all the blankets, pillows, and fluffy rugs.

8 months in and I’m still getting used to this whole being married business. Emily’s Ten House Rules are really practical, and I definitely had some aha! moments while reading it. Plus any excuse to keep a bottle of champagne or our favorite wine in the fridge is good with me!

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My 6 Tips for Naming Characters

Photo via Death to Stock
Photo via Death to Stock


Do you ever have trouble coming up with a name for a character or place? Even though I’ve kept a list of potential character names for years, it’s honestly one of the trickiest parts of novel-prep for me. Names can either bring your story to life, or stick out and interrupt the flow of the story for the reader. It’s especially important in fantasy or science fiction — since you’re creating an entire world from the ground-up, one out-of-place name can throw everything off. That’s a lot of pressure! While I’m no expert, these are the tricks I’ve found helpful so far.


Trick #1: Don’t feel obligated to copy the heavy hitters. J.R.R. Tolkien created his own languages, so I think a lot of fantasy writers feel like creating a language is now a requirement. However, I don’t have the linguistics know-how to pull that off, and honestly, making up a language does not sound fun to me. So I’m skipping that “requirement.”


This applies to other genres too. Maybe you’re tired of safe names like Emily or Jane. (No offense to any Emilys or Janes out there! I love both those names, but there are a lot of you.) Or maybe you feel like everyone is trying too hard to make their characters special by giving them weird names. Don’t be afraid to ignore the “rules” and choose names that fit your story.


Trick #2: Don’t be afraid to borrow a name from another story — as long as it’s not easily recognizable. If your protagonist is named Hermione, Katniss, or Frodo, your reader is going to know something’s up. But secondary characters are a great option for some creative “theft.” Shakespeare’s plays and the Harry Potter series have tons of secondary characters, so they’re  a great place to look for names that will work for your story.


I think it also helps if you borrow from several sources, so readers don’t notice ten Shakespeare names popping up throughout your story. (This obviously doesn’t apply if you’re doing a retelling of Hamlet or Macbeth or something like that.)


Trick #3: Borrow a name or word and change it up a little. This is probably my favorite trick. Whether you’re afraid that a name sounds too familiar as-is, or you want to make it a little more interesting, changing one or two letters can make all the difference. This is also great for using words as names. A few months ago I bought a bottle of rosé called Miraval. I really liked the name, so I changed a vowel and voila! I had a name for one of my protagonists. True story.


Note: Like Trick #2, I think you should avoid names that are easily recognizable. A name like Eragon (cough cough) is so similar to Aragorn that readers might assume you borrowed it.


Trick #4: Sound is more important than meaning. In the past, I chose names based on the meaning, but they never sounded good together. While I love character names with symbolic meanings (J.K. Rowling is especially good at this), I think sound is ultimately more important.


Trick #5: Avoid really complicated names. If you’re a fantasy writer you’ve probably heard this advice before, but it’s worth repeating. If there are too many silent letters or extra syllables in a name, your readers will have to do a lot of heavy lifting every time they read it. And if your protagonist’s name is 18 letters long, odds are your reader will be pretty cranky after stumbling over it 10,000 times.


If you’re absolutely in love with a complicated name, try using a nickname. The full name will actually have more impact if you only pull it out for important moments (AKA birthdays, ceremonies, or when they’re in trouble).


Trick #6: If you can’t decide on a name for a character or place, it’s better to use a temporary name than to get stuck searching for a perfect one. (I’m preaching to the choir here, because I’m totally guilty of this.) After all, C.S. Lewis changed the Pevensie siblings’ names after the first draft, so I think it’s ok to use a placeholder name until you find one that’s just right.

Do you have any tricks for picking character names? Do you think it’s beyond weird that I named a character after a wine bottle? I’d love to hear what you think!

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Apartment Hunting

DeathtoStock__Creative Community8
Photo courtesy of Death to Stock Photo


I alluded to some disappointing news in my last Weekend Thoughts post, and I decided I should share it in more detail here, especially since I’ve talked about it a few times on the blog.


Last week, Teddy and I found out that we probably wouldn’t be able to move into a new apartment until 2016. Since Teddy works in the energy industry and the price of oil has been unstable recently, a lot of oil companies are planning on starting layoffs soon. It looked like the best decision was to wait a few extra months to move, but it was a crushing realization, especially because I found out after a particularly crummy day. To say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement — if I’m being totally honest, I cried in a Five Guys’ parking lot for a good 20 minutes. Thank goodness we’d already cancelled our plans for that night due to feeling under the weather, because I would have been a total mess!


We kept talking about our options over the weekend, and we both realized how much we both really want to find a new apartment that will fit our lives better, and hopefully with fewer technical issues. So we decided to look around a little more, and we found some apartments that are a little farther away from my office, but they’d be cheaper and bigger, so that was really encouraging. We still won’t know for sure whether we’ll be moving or not for a month or two, but it’s way better than knowing for sure we won’t be moving.


It’s hard not knowing where we’ll be this summer, and I’m not too thrilled that we may still be living with a regurgitating bathtub* (yes you read that correctly), total lack of natural light, and stucco mustard-yellow walls. Honestly, thankfulness is hard when I’m scrubbing the bathtub for the third time in a week. But I really want to work on being content with where I am right now — and remembering that my apartment’s biggest flaws are mostly inconveniences. Teddy and I are hoping that waiting to move (or moving into a more affordable apartment) will help us pay off my college loans a little faster and save up for a second car, which would make it easier to live a little further away from work.


*Note on the regurgitating bathtub (if you get grossed out easily, feel free to skip this part!): from what we can tell, there’s no U-bend in the pipes leading away from our bathtub. So when our next door neighbor drains her bathwater, the water can’t drain properly, so it comes through the pipe into our bathtub. Thank goodness it’s not sewage, just some gross, metallic-y water that stains the bottom of the bathtub. It’s a huge pain, but I don’t think it’s a major health hazard, so it could definitely be worse!! FYI, if you ever visit an apartment and you notice that the inside of the porcelain bathtub is painted, run away! It means the owner tried to cover up a stain, and there really can’t be any good reason for a bathtub stain that’s so bad they decided to paint over it. Save yourself the pain!


This was more of a personal post, so I hope you enjoyed it even though it’s a little different than what I’ve been posting lately. Also, I hope there wasn’t TMI about the bathtub situation that totally grossed you out! I just wanted to include it because I wanted to be honest, and make it clear that there’s more going on than some ugly walls and lack of sunlight — because really, I would feel pretty lame complaining about an ugly paint color. I also think it’s kind of funny despite the grossness, and I really hope the bathtub and I can move past our frenemy relationship status.

I’d love to hear your stories about any ugly/ scary/ crappy apartments you’ve lived in! I feel like everyone has that one really hideous apartment that they talk about for years, so I’d love to commiserate over them!

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Weekend Thoughts / 10

Photo via Death to Stock Photo
Photo via Death to Stock Photo


Whew, what a week! There have been great moments — like my first blog collaboration with one of my favorite bloggers! — but there’s also been disappointing news, perpetually cloudy skies, and a fight with some sort of cold / allergy weirdness that’s trying to take over. And according to my weather app, the sun’s appearance today will be the only sunny day for the next week. It’s hard to complain when the weather’s so warm in Houston compared to the east coast, but I am definitely ready for some sunshine! Since I’ve moved away from Lookout Mountain, I’d forgotten that two weeks of cloudy weather gives me a case of the winter grumps like nobody’s business. Can someone in Dallas please send some sunshine to Houston?


I’m off to soak up all the Vitamin D while I still can, so here are some of my favorite links from this week:


I decided to number my Weekend Thoughts posts, so it’ll be easier to keep track of them. Plus it’ll be fun to see how many I can write!


I had my first ever blog collaboration with Danielle of This Picture Book Life, and it was so much fun! I learned so much, and Danielle was so great to work with. I’ve been so inspired by her blog, and getting to work with a blogger I admire so much was a total dream come true. I still can’t believe it!


I got a Twitter! My friend Hillary convinced me to get one a couple weeks ago, but I kind of forgot about it. Then Danielle asked me if I had one on Thursday and I had a mad rush to get one set up. I’m really good at this whole social media thing, huh? Thanks for the reminder, Danielle!


I’m so excited about The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book I got for my birthday, but all the pies sound so good that I couldn’t decide which to make first. I think I’m going to take a cue from Deb Perelman and make the black bottom oatmeal pie. Yum!


Who doesn’t love Kate Middleton?


Austin Kleon’s list of 10 things I learned while writing my last book is spot on and a perfect answer to this post.


Man, I loved Cara Nicoletti’s post about living with the fear of change so much. It makes me feel a little less embarrassed about how many of the quotes from my Pinterest are about being brave.


I really want to take this weekend to “make a scene” with my writing and some other projects that can sometimes take a back seat on my to-do list.


I’ve officially added the Madonna Inn to my list of places to visit. Because who doesn’t want to sleep in a pink glitter room?

I can’t get over how adorable these DIY Ring Cones are!

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Cauliflower Tacos + Dragons Love Tacos with This Picture Book Life

Everyone I know loves tacos — Moms, Dads, Grandmas, kids… and dragons?




According to Dragons Love Tacos (written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri), dragons love tacos and parties. But taco parties are their favorite. In Dragons Love Tacos, the narrator and his dog invite some dragons over for a taco party. The dragons are delighted and everything is going well until — oh no! The little boy realizes that he picked the WRONG SALSA! Dragons do not like spicy food because it upsets their stomachs. But the narrator has accidentally bought mild salsa with jalapenos added! He tries to stop the dragons from eating the spicy salsa, but too late. And dragons with upset tummies can definitely ruin a party.




When I first read this book, I immediately thought of Danielle Davis of This Picture Book Life. I love the wide selection of picture books she discusses on her blog — from the cute, funny, and heartwarming, to the serious, thoughtful, and heartbreaking, she talks about them all. So when we started talking about taco ideas to celebrate Dragons Love Tacos and she suggested that I think up a recipe for veggie tacos that any meat-lover (or dragon) would enjoy, I knew I had to think up something good. So I came up with a cauliflower taco.


Taco Model


Cauliflower — in a taco? It might sound weird, but actually the texture is perfect for tacos. Not too soft, but not too crunchy, and they can stand up to Tex-Mex flavors surprisingly well.


And because cauliflower tacos aren’t crazy enough, I made crispy taco shells — with my microwave! There are lots of recipes for how to fry your own taco shells, but all that popping oil is a little intimidating. So when I saw Geoffrey Zakarian make crispy taco shells in the microwave during the Warming Winter Meals episode of The Kitchen, I knew I had to try it. And it works! (Although your mileage may vary depending on your microwave and the brand of tortillas you’re using.) No popping oil or messy kitchen to clean up. And I have a hunch that you could make a few at once, so they’d be extra great for any taco parties you might be planning.


Taco Platter (2)


These tacos are delicious enough to convert the most meat-loving dragon you know. Just don’t add any jalapeno!


Spicy Pico de Gallo:

– 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped, with seeds removed (should be about 2 cups)

– 1/2 minced jalapeno, seeds removed

– 1/4 cup minced white onion

-1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped

– juice of 1 small lime


Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in the refrigerator to let the flavors marry. (This can be made the day before.)



– 2 tsp. ground cumin

– 1 tsp. garlic salt (if you don’t have garlic salt, you can use 1 tsp. Kosher salt + 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)

– 1/2 tsp. chili powder

– 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

– 2 small pinches cayenne pepper

– 1 pinch black pepper

– 1 large head cauliflower

– 1/4 cup minced white onion

– 2 tbsp. Canola or vegetable oil

– 6-8 small corn tortillas

– 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped romaine

– Your favorite taco toppings


Preheat oven to 350°.


Coarsely chop cauliflower, removing as much of the stem as possible. Add onion to cauliflower in a large bowl and stir to combine.


Stir spices together in a small bowl until they are evenly mixed. Add oil and stir until well combined. Drizzle over cauliflower and gently toss until cauliflower is evenly coated in spice mixture.


Spread cauliflower mixture evenly onto a foil-lined medium baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until cauliflower is slightly tender.


Meanwhile, lay 1 corn tortilla on a paper towel and insert a microwave-safe mug — the narrower the better. Make sure the tortilla is as skinny or wide as you want your final taco shell to be, then place mug (upright) in your microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds. If tortilla is still slightly soft, heat for an additional 15 seconds. Carefully remove mug from microwave, and then remove paper towel and shell and set your now crispy corn tortilla shell aside on a plate. If there is any excess moisture inside the mug, dry with paper towel before repeating with other tortillas. Note: the mug will be hot after it’s been in the microwave, so make sure you hold it by the handle and be very careful when removing the tortilla shell.


Once your cauliflower is cooked and all your tortillas are crispy taco shells, it’s time to assemble! Layer cauliflower, chopped romaine, and Pico de Gallo, and then add your favorite taco toppings. We like Sargento’s Mexican cheese blend and maybe some hot sauce, but you can add sour cream, guacamole, black beans, corn salsa, or anything else you like. Enjoy!


Taco Platter and extra Pico


To keep the fun going, Danielle is talking about Dragons Love Tacos over at This Picture Book Life, so be sure to check it out! We hope you’ll make these tacos. But remember, if you invite any dragons for dinner, you might want to leave out the spicy Pico de Gallo!



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What’s in My Purse?

In my Purse final


I’m the type who always likes to feel prepared. And since I downsized from a Mary Poppins-style bag to a more manageable purse late last year, I’ve had to whittle down my list of “essentials” to the things I use most often. It’s so nice to able to walk around without a potential wrecking ball attached to my hip! And even though I’m on Instagram much more now that I don’t have room for a book, I think it’s totally worth it for how much lighter I feel now that I’m not weighed down with a million “necessities.” Here are the things that have earned a spot in my purse:


In my Purse final2


Purse: similar purses a and b, and a splurge

Art of Instruction Botanical Journal (I’ve been using this for my story notes, and I love it! Pretty & small enough to fit in my purse.)

Arrow Print Wallet (Big enough to fit everything I need without letting me hoard receipts for 2 years.)

Medicine pouch (actually a makeup bag inherited from my Grandma – similar and not so similar)

Little mini pill boxes (My Mom got some and let me have a couple, but I think most drug stores should have them.)

Nivea Creme Tin  (Great for dry winter skin, and the tin hasn’t opened in my purse once!)

Tide To Go pen (For all the times I’m wearing white and inevitably spill something.)

Hand Sanitizer  (I’ve been stuck in one too many gross gas station bathrooms on road trips, and I refuse to go on a long trip without hand sanitizer)

Isabel Talsma business card (from card I ordered for a friend’s birthday)

Burt’s Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm (Winter means I need chapstick all the time.)

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Lovers Coral (Fun orangey-pink color.)

NARS Lipstick in Scarlet Empress (My current favorite lipstick – it’s great as a berry stain.)


Not pictured:

My phone (which was taking the picture)


Loose Bobby pins + an extra hair tie

(Really old) SD card I accidentally stole from Mom & Dad over Christmas

Rubber band I meant to give to Tonks


I’ve been really inspired by Meredith’s Inspiring Items series, and I wanted to try my hand at some styled photos. It’s a fun excuse to work on my iPhone photography and do something creative just because. I’m not sure how successful I was in working around the weird lighting in my apartment, but this was still really fun! Hopefully I’ll be able to do more of these soon!


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