Bedroom_1Continuing on with the most drawn-out home tour in the history of all blogs. Today, I’ve got some photos of our master bedroom to share! Honestly, I’ve been avoiding sharing photos of our master bedroom because I have had the hardest time taking photos of this room. Something about the way the room is shaped and the way the light filters in has made it hard to really give you a feel for the room. Work with me, okay?

When we were choosing paint colors for the room I wanted to paint all the walls Dark Pewter by Benjamin Moore. My mom and Joe both thought that would be too dark, so we compromised and painted one wall Dark Pewter (the wall opposite the bed) and the remaining walls a shade of grey from Benjamin Moore. I love the Dark Pewter and couldn’t be happier with the pop of dark on the walls. It’s a chameleon color that changes as the light changes and it’s beautiful.

Our bedding is a mixture of greys and yellows, a common theme in our house. The duvet is from West Elm and the sheets are Calvin Klein that we’ve had for a couple years. The amazing sunflower painting was a belated wedding gift from our friend and talented painter, Marcia Lain Herring. She does wonderful work and I love the jewel tones she used. They’re perfect for the room.

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Although the room isn’t huge, we do have space for two dressers. Mine is the dresser with the flowers and Joe’s dresser is on the far wall. Eventually we have plans to make a large closet for Joe in the unfinished part of the basement (hopefully this summer!) since Joe showers in the bathroom downstairs and he’s currently using the second bedroom closet as his own. Houses built in the 1950′s were a little short on closet space!

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We played around with a few arrangements when it came to bed placement. Eventually we settled on putting the bed up against a window. I was initially opposed to putting the bed up against a window, but then I remembered my friend Laura placed a bed against a window in her guest room, and it gave me the confidence to do just that. I’m happy with how it turned out, and it really is the best place for the bed.

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My mom found this amazing solution for all my jewelry. I have my necklaces hanging from a coat hook behind the door, but earrings, bracelets and rings all go on this little tree-looking jewelry stand. Full disclosure: It doesn’t always look this put-together. ;)

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In the name of seasonal decor, we swap out the flowers in this large purple glass vase (from Homegoods) as the seasons change. I just recently swapped out our winter greenery for some spring buds in hopes that it will usher warmer temps soon!

Madison

BuffaloChickenSandwich_2

Note: After my post about switching from eating vegetarian to eating meat, I thought an update was in order. After about two months my body really started to reject eating paleo-style. I began to crave the vegetarian fare (and whole grains!) that I was so accustomed to. I have since decided that while it was interesting to give paleo-style eating a go, it isn’t for me and my body. I plan to write a full recap soon, but I wanted to get that out there for honesty’s sake.

Although I’m no longer eating meat, I will continue to be cooking a lot of meat, as I always have. Since I’m not ethically against eating meat, I do try everything that I prepare and share on this blog to make sure that it’s worth posting. My husband, of course, is also a fantastic resource and is always willing to provide his opinion on what he likes and doesn’t like. In this case, Joe was a huge fan of these Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.

These sandwiches are incredibly easy to make and require very little hands-on time, meaning you can go do other things, like play with your puppy or paint your nails, while your dinner cooks. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but the key to good slow cooker chicken is to use a cut with a little bit more fat, like these boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They become incredibly tender and moist in the slow cooker and shred easily for sandwiches.

Since we love spicy food at our house, I added in a can of diced green chiles to the mix. And a little bit of brown sugar, which I think really rounds out the flavor of the sandwiches and balances the heat of the buffalo sauce.

Oh, and one more thing! A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe over at Pinch of Yum which suggested that you shred your meat and broil it after slow cooking to give the meat pleasant crispiness resembling barbecue. For the longest time my biggest complaint with slow cooker food was that it tasted mushy and, well, slow cooked. This step of broiling the meat was a total game changer. Give it a try and be impressed!

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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
 
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This recipe is incredibly easy and makes a great weeknight dinner. I love shredding the meat and broiling it once it has cooked for a little extra texture and smoky flavor. It prevents the meat from tasting like, well, a slow-cooker recipe.
Recipe type: Slow Cooker Entree
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 package (20 oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1½ cups buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot brand)
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Whole wheat bakery buns or rolls

Directions
  1. Place chicken and buffalo wing sauce in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cook on High 2 hours or Low 4 hours.
  2. Use two forks to shred the chicken in the slow cooker. Stir in the green chiles and brown sugar and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes more.
  3. Turn oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place shredded chicken on baking sheet and broil 10 minutes or until the ends of the chicken become slightly charred and crispy. Serve on sandwich buns.

 Madison

Mug_Cake_4I’ve got a serious bone to pick with mug cakes. While I love the concept of mug cakes, every time I went out looking for a recipe to satisfy my sweet tooth, the mug cakes I found fell in one of the following categories:

1. Very super healthy but tasting similar to sawdust
2. Super indulgent, with as much as 2 or 3 tablespoons (!!) nut butter in a single serving, meaning 200-300 calories in nut butter alone

When I’m looking to make a mug cake, I want it to taste great but I’m also not looking to consume a huge number of calories. In that case, I would just make a regular cake or go to Whole Foods for a cupcake. The other week as I was leaving work, I swung by the company store (yes, we have a company store and it’s wonderful) and picked up a box of Betty Crocker Party Rainbow Chip cake mix. We don’t usually have things like cake mix sitting around at home since I’m more of a from-scratch baker, but something about that Party Rainbow Chip was calling my name.

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Turns out I was right. I’ve found plenty of ways to use the cake mix I picked up last week. I was delighted when I figured out that I could make an incredibly easy and tasty mug cake with just a few ingredients. A little bit of cake mix, an egg white and a few tablespoons of milk is all you need to make a mug cake any night of the week. While it’s not exactly health food, it’s certainly healthier than a lot of the mug cakes out there and tastes so much like a regular cupcake! From now on, I’ll be keeping a box of cake mix in my pantry just in case.

Healthier Rainbow Chip Mug Cake for One
 
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This is my go-to weeknight dessert when I’m craving something sweet but don’t want to totally bust my healthy eating for the day. It’s easy and incredibly tasty and has enough protein to keep you full thanks to the egg white.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 1

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Betty Crocker Party Rainbow Chip cake mix (or similar cake mix)
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions
  1. In small bowl, whisk together the cake mix, egg white and milk until smooth. Spray a mug with cooking spray. Pour cake batter into mug and microwave 30 to 40 seconds or until cake is cooked through. It’s better to undercook than overcook mug cakes.
  2. Serve cake warm plain or with a dollop of Greek yogurt or peanut butter as “frosting.”

joe_madison00024
When Joe and went shopping for wedding bands I remember how confused everyone was when I decided to pick a simple, inexpensive gold band as my wedding band. Instead of choosing something that matched my diamond engagement ring set in platinum, I decided that I wanted a humble, understated band I could wear and not worry about scratching it, losing it or getting it dirty. Initially, it was a decision based on simplicity and practicality, but as we inch up on 3 years of marriage, that simple gold band means a lot more to me.

These days I wear that simple gold band 80% of the time. Sometimes it makes Joe shake his head, wondering why on earth he would have spent all that money on a diamond when I’m just as satisfied, if not more satisfied, with a $300 band.

And oh how I do love that ring. When I look down at it on my finger, slightly tarnished and scratched and simple it reminds me of what real marriage is like. It’s a daily reminder to me that marriage is beautiful and sacred, but it’s also messy and complicated and takes a whole lot of hard work in the day-to-day.

My diamond engagement ring (and the diamond band Joe later bought me to match it) is the ring I wear when I’m dressed up, going somewhere special, in the more glamorous moments of life. But my gold band is my “everyday” ring. It’s the ring I wear while we do life together in the real world. It’s a ring for bed head and bad breath and tears and dance parties in the kitchen and moving boxes and yard work and fixing plumbing issues.

On this Valentine’s Day we will be celebrating with couple friends tonight and spending a long weekend together by both taking Monday off work. It’s not going to be anything extravagant, and I think I’ll be wearing that same, simple gold band the entire time.

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One of my favorite traditions at work is our monthly cookbook club. It’s so fun to select a book, pick a recipe and get together with a bunch of other people who love to cook and discuss what we liked and didn’t like about said book. Sometimes it’s an incredibly successful cookbook club, sometimes it’s only okay.  But that’s the point, right? It’s so rare that I get a chance to make more than one or two recipes out of any given cookbook, so getting to taste 10 to 15 recipes at once really gives a feel for what the book is about and the quality of the recipes.

Our most recent selection was Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The book is entirely vegan but the part that really knocked my socks off was the fact that I feel I could serve these recipes at a dinner party to vegans and non vegans alike. The recipes were warm and comforting and incredibly filling. Although there is a fair amount of chopping and slicing and dicing involved in all the recipes, they were all fairly easy to prepare and didn’t require many specialty ingredients. Bonus: I don’t think “vegan cheese” or “vegan meat” was used once!

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I left cookbook club this month feeling like I had eaten Thanksgiving dinner, though I didn’t feel weighed down or gross (albeit a little too full) like I sometimes do over the holidays. The food was nourishing, light and hearty all at once, and I fell in love with Isa’s casual and funny way of writing a cookbook.

The Chana Saag with Kale that I made for cookbook club was universally one of the favorite dishes that was prepared, and I couldn’t wait to make it again in my own kitchen to share with you. I tweaked the recipe slightly, mainly by adding more kale and slightly different spices to suit my tastes, but the recipe is incredibly forgiving and easy to adapt based on what you have on hand. However, I would strongly suggest not leaving out the lime juice, because the hit of tangy citrus really brings this dish together.

Chana Saag with Kale
 
This recipe is adapted from a recipe of the same name from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I fell in love with Isa’s version, which calls for kale instead of the more traditional spinach. Kale is heartier and holds up better, which is important for leftovers. Since this makes a lot, there are bound to be leftovers! I like this dish heavy on the kale, but feel free to use less if you aren’t a huge fan of kale.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus more to taste at the end)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, more or less depending on desired heat
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) light coconut milk
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • Juice from 1 lime

Directions
  1. In large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned and softened. In small bowl, combine curry powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne. Add spice mixture to onions and cook 1 minute more to toast the spices.
  2. Add in the juice from the tomatoes to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Crush the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot. Add the chickpeas to the pot along with the tomatoes. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Add in the coconut milk and heat through.
  4. Add the kale and cook 5 minutes more or until kale is cooked and softened slightly.

 

 

 

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