Family, Fashion, Food & Recipes, Infertility and Miscarriage

29.

October 5, 2016

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Today I turn 29. I can’t believe that when this blog started, I was just 22 years old, a senior in college, without any background in blogging or the internet world. I wanted to post recipes of food that I loved. I was interning at a lifestyle magazine and working in their food section and inspired by this huge, brand-new world that was suddenly opened to me.

Back then I had unlimited amounts of time and few commitments other than a very cute boyfriend who would eventually become my husband. I worked and then came home and dreamed about the next recipe that I would put up on Espresso and Cream, excited about trying something new, scouring cookbooks for hours for inspiration and reading blogs like they were going out of style. (They are now, aren’t they?)

And then life changed. I got a few different big-girl jobs and I churned out recipes like a machine for those jobs. I developed recipes all day, in fact, and while it was fun and wonderful in so many ways, it didn’t really leave me craving kitchen time when I got home. I spent my whole day in a kitchen! So what once was a food blog became a lifestyle blog, and then for a time an infertility and miscarriage blog and then, even later, a blog about family and beauty and whatever seemed interesting at the time.

Some days, with life busier than ever, I think about closing up this blog all together. Because there are days and weeks and months when inspiration runs dry and I am left longing for the days when I wanted and could write about all the things. And there are still other days when I think that what I really need is a fresh start, to move to a new platform with a new name and start from scratch.

But then I think about the history, you guys. The stories that I’ve shared here and the journey that this blog – a diary of sorts – has been along for the ride and I can’t imagine not spending time talking with you all and receiving your e-mails and hearing your stories. I have made so many amazing friends through blogging and I’m richer because of that.

So no, this blog isn’t going anywhere, but on my 29th year, I’m taking a good, long, hard look at what blogging means to me and what I want to talk about on this site. And I want to hear from YOU! What types of content to do you want to see? Is it more recipes or more posts about beauty? Or maybe it’s sharing more fashion finds or talking about motherhood? Since this blog has been all over the place since it started, I’m ripe for suggestions and ideas from you, the ones who read this blog and who I’m so thankful for.

Thanks for being patient with me as I figure out what is next for Espresso and Cream.

Madison

Food & Recipes

Pie Week #3 // Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

September 26, 2016

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You’ll have to forgive me for missing one week of my pie-per-week challenge. Already, I’m only three weeks into this thing and I’ve missed a week? #badblogger

Needless to say, I think I’m going to have to develop a strategy for how we can gift these pies to friends and family throughout the challenge. Although my husband is happy to eat the pies all by himself (you should see this man eat pie) I think for the sake of health we should share the love a little bit more. So Joe’s co-workers, our friends, neighbors and the like – expect a pie delivery sometime this fall. We’re struggling to keep up with the pie eating on our own!

This week’s pie is a Chocolate-Pumpkin Pie. If you’ve never enjoyed the combination that is chocolate and pumpkin, then you’re missing out. It’s been years since I first tried a chocolate pumpkin pie and I’ve been hooked ever since. Joe actually said that the combination is better than traditional pumpkin pie, and I think I might agree. The flavor is both chocolate and pumpkin, leaning a bit more toward chocolate. Adding a little chocolate (and butter!) gives this pie a more decadence, tasting a lot less like a healthy dessert and more like plain old dessert.

Although I won’t be giving up my traditional pumpkin pie any time soon (it’s my favorite, after all!) I do think this pie deserves a place in your pie rotation this fall.

Pie Week #3 // Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Author: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Pie crust for one standard 9-inch pie
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Additional melted semi-sweet chocolate for drizzling on top of pie
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and chocolate chips. Melt, stirring frequently, until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. In a second bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the additional chocolate for drizzling. Stir until well combined and smooth. Add the chocolate-butter mixture to the pumpkin mixture, stirring until smooth and well combined.
  4. Roll out pie crust onto a lightly floured surface into a ¼-inch thick circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges with your fingers as desired. Pour the filling mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is still slightly jiggly. Cool for 30 minutes on wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Before serving, drizzle with the melted milk chocolate.

 

Fashion

Fall Fashion Basics

September 19, 2016

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This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches but all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Espresso and Cream. 

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Dress: Old Navy Knit Swing Dress || Watch: JORD Wood Watch – Cora Series, Koa & Rose Gold || Shoes: Coolway Open Toe Booties 

Lately I’ve been pairing down my wardrobe in favor of pieces that I truly love and am happy to wear time and time again. It seems that everyone is in pursuit of a “capsule wardrobe”, and I’m no different. While I love having options, I found that over time my wardrobe started to bum me out when it was filled with clothes that didn’t look good or make me feel confident. I wanted to have fewer items and only wear things that I really loved!

Instead of getting stuck on a specific number of items of clothing, I’ve simply been focusing on asking myself the question, “Does this make me feel insanely happy and confident when I wear it?” If the answer isn’t “yes!” then it doesn’t make the cut. It’s also made it incredibly clear what makes sense to buy vs. pass on when shopping.

Since my clothing choices always tend toward the more neutral side, I rely heavily on fun jewelry to make things look and feel special. Pendant necklaces and unique watches have always been favorites of mine, so this wooden watch from JORD fit right into my current wardrobe. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever owned, made primarily of wood and incredibly beautiful. Seriously. I took it with me to Arkansas on my most recent trip and got asked about it at least a half dozen times.

For a limited time JORD is giving away a $75 credit for their products! Enter here — you get a $20 credit just for entering. Giveaway ends October 9th!

Luxury Wooden Watch

Food & Recipes

Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake // Joe’s 29th Birthday Cake

September 13, 2016

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Every year I make my husband a birthday cake, and every year Joe asks me to bake a chocolate cake. One of Joe’s favorite recipes of all time is a recipe I developed a couple years ago when I was working for Betty Crocker. Let’s be clear when I say that yes, this cake starts with boxed cake mix, but it’s anything but ordinary.

Actually, I should clarify that I have nothing against boxed cake mix in certain situations, including this one, where using boxed cake yields some of the best cake around.

This was my first attempt at baking this cake in layer format rather than in a bundt pan, and with a few adjustments and adaptations, it turned out really well! I would make this cake again and again, and you should, too, if you’re looking for a chocolate cake recipe that will blow your guests minds.

Plus, the leftovers taste pretty great, too. Not that I would know anything about eating leftovers after taking photographs in the middle of the day or anything. 😉

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Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake // Joe's 29th Birthday Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 slices
 
Ingredients
  • Cake
  • 1 box Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • 1 box (4-serving) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Frosting
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Make the cake layers:
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water and eggs and beat until smooth and well combined. Batter will be thick. Beat in the chocolate chips just until combined.
  4. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly in pans. Bake on the middle oven rack 22 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire cooling racks, about 1 hour.
  6. To Make Frosting:
  7. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the chocolate and beat until well combined, about 1 minute more. Beat in the milk vanilla and salt, followed by the powdered sugar, beating about 2 minutes or until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
  8. To Assemble Cake:
  9. Place on cake layer on a cake plate or serving tray. Spread some of the frosting on the top of the cake evenly. Top with remaining layer. Use remaining frosting to frost top and sides of the cake. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Cake recipe adapted from One-Bowl Strawberry Bundt Cake 
Frosting recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery Cookbook 

Family

Donut Wednesday

September 10, 2016

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This summer Ainsley and I started a tradition called Donut Wednesday. If you follow me over on IG, chances are you’ve seen a few photos of our weekly donut dates, where I take my coffee along with me to the bakery (because the bakery has such bad coffee) and Ainsley orders a sprinkle donut and proceeds to eat all the sprinkles off the top of the donut.

I’m convinced she is my child because she loves sweets just like her momma and has taken to waking at ridiculously early hours, just like her mom.

As Ainsley has gotten older, I’ve been working on being more intentional in my parenting. Slowing down, pointing out the little things, letting Ainsley walk down the street ridiculously slow while she points at every little rock and crack in the ground.

And it’s not the most natural thing in the world to me – doing the same puzzle fifteen times or going to the park for the third time of the day or looking at rocks in the landscaping. Sometimes it feels dull. Sometimes, when Ainsley is having a day and seems dissatisfied with everything, including me, I can let that little voice in my head tell me that I’m just not very good at this motherhood thing.

When I’m at work I consistently feel good at what I’m doing. Sure, I have days where I question things, but figuring out the right words for a freelance article feels easier than negotiating with a toddler who isn’t sure what she wants.

I’ve been thinking a lot about slowing down in all areas of life, working hard at things that don’t come naturally and giving myself grace when it doesn’t come right away. I’ve been reading Present Over Perfect, which came at the perfect time in this season of slowing down.

In the past I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve lacked discipline. I’m a procrastinator by nature, pushing off the hard for what’s fun, easy, and provides instant gratification. But motherhood isn’t about instant gratification. It’s a season of watering the ground, again and again, waiting for the seed to come up. Believing that all the watering, day after day, will eventually yield the fruit you dreamed about when you planted the seed.

And it shows, very little by little. A “thank you” or a random show of affection. When Ainsley puts her toys away on her own or shares a toy with a friend. The glimpses are fleeting at this age, hard to come by for sure. But I’m waiting, being patient and believing that the fruit will come if I continue to water the seed, day after day.

In recent months I’ve been inspired by women who are modeling  intentionality in their posting, their motherhood, how they interact with social media and others. If you’re looking for resources yourself, I’ve listed a few of my favorites below!

Laura Wifler // How Intentional Mornings are Changing My Life 
Shauna Niequist // Present Over Perfect 
Risen Motherhood // Ep. 27 Intentional Motherhood: It’s the Little Things
Design for Mankind // Well Done (every mom needs to read this!)
Food Loves Writing // An Essay on Parenthood, One Year In 

Madison