I feel like it’s been forever since I did a giveaway on Espresso and Cream! Maybe it’s because it has been forever. I’ve been trying to cut back on the giveaways and focus on only promoting products I really love and am passionate about, meaning fewer giveaways. But! When I do have a product I’m excited about, I have to let you in on it.

When I was home over the holidays, I had the opportunity to sample my cousin’s new nutrition bars. Branded under the company name Fly Joy, the bars are made with a bunch of good-for-you ingredients like quinoa, oats, flax and chia seeds. And for those eating a restricted diet, they are also gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free.

I tasted all three flavors of the bars (and got a bunch to take home with me to pass along to friends, family and co-workers) and was blown away by the taste and texture. I’m not joking when I say that they’re amazing. Joe and I both agreed that our favorite flavor is the Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt. Seriously?! So good. They also have Coconut-Almond and Espresso Dark Chocolate flavors.

So, seeing as that I love these bars and want you to be able to try them, too, I’m giving away a box of the flavor of your choice to one lucky reader. There are four different ways to enter to win. See below for the details! And if you don’t happen to win, you can purchase a case for yourself on Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Well, friends, we’ve had Miss Pippa for a little over a month and a half, so I figured it was high time to put a post together on thoughts about getting a second dog. This was the first puppy Joe and I have trained (we got Nutmeg from my parents as a perfectly behaved 3-year-old dog) so we were a little nervous to say the least. The fact that both of us have full-time jobs that require us to be gone much of the day added another layer of complexity.

Going into this experience I anticipated puppy training to be a lot of work, and it was, but at the same time, it was much easier than I thought. We got Pippa from a responsible and reputable breeder who happened to live close to our house and only breeds Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. We got plenty of time to meet and interact with Pippa prior to taking her home with us at 12 weeks and had time to observe her with her litter mates before picking which puppy we wanted to be a part of our family.

Puppy_Bath_1{Little Miss Pippa getting her first bath at our house. Ha!}

We fell in love with Pippa’s calm demeanor and thoughtful personality right away. You could tell from the beginning that she was a thoughtful puppy, always pausing to think about things before acting. It’s proven to be an asset for us, since she was easy to potty train, bell train and learn commands like sit and down. However, it’s also proven difficult because she is smart enough to willfully disobey us or use things to her advantage.

A few things we did to get her off to a good start with training and obedience:

1. Potty Training: We focused on potty training first and foremost for obvious reasons. We made a point to always let Pippa out of the same door for consistency, and since it was snowy, Joe shoveled an area that looks like an arena in our yard for her to go potty in every time. The first week or two we really had to watch her and catch her before she went potty on the floor. As she got a few weeks older, she started to go to the door to tell us she had to go potty. The first week we were waking up in the middle of the night to let her go to the bathroom, but after about a week she was sleeping straight through the night. Thank goodness!

2. Bell Training: This is something we added into the mix a couple weeks ago. As Pippa got a little older, we felt comfortable letting her roam the house a little more. However, we started to notice that she had a few accidents right next to the door. She was sitting at the door, trying to tell us she had to go out, and we didn’t see her, which would lead to the accidents. Now that we have a little bell at nose height next to the door (secured with a command hook) she can tell us she needs to go out. It’s fantastic! However, I’ve found her using it to her advantage a lot lately. She will go ring the bell every time she wants to play outside. We haven’t figured out a solution to that problem yet.

PIppa_LivingroomTOur_13. Crate Training: We implemented the crate training from the start and I’m so happy we did! The first couple weeks were rough since Pippa didn’t want to spend the whole night in her crate and would whine when we put her in there for any extended period of time. But seeing as that we work, there really was not other solution during the day and at night it was critical to all of us getting a good night of sleep. We started to keep her crate in the living room during the day (near Nutmeg) so she could see what was going on and even left her crate out in the living room with the door open when we were home so she could get familiar and comfortable with her crate. Giving her treats and even feeding your puppy in their crate for a while are all good ways to make them love their crate, and at night we cover her crate with a light blanket to signal it’s “bed time.”

4. Obedience Class: We’ve been going to puppy obedience classes with Pippa once a week for the last few weeks. It’s a four week program and a great way to socialize your dog and learn how to train them and reinforce positive behavior while curbing any behavior you don’t like. Right now Pippa does sit very well and down pretty well. She is still learning “no jumping” and is getting better with “no biting” but it’s still a work in progress.

5. During the Day: We were SO blessed to find someone in the area who is letting Pippa out during the day when we are at work. Seriously, I don’t know what we would do without her. We connected through a mutual friend and it worked out for her to come during the weekdays to let Pippa out to go potty and play with her for 10 to 15 minutes over lunchtime. I tried running home every day for about 1 week before I realized it was totally not going to work to do this long term, especially with the winter weather, snow and meeting schedules. Pippa_3
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how Nutmeg is doing, and the short answer is that she is adjusting super well! I was so nervous she was going to hate Pippa or never adjust to being in a two dog family. The first few weeks she just avoided Pippa all together, but Pippa won her over, like she wins everyone over, and now Nutmeg is good buds with Pipp. A few weeks ago they even started playing together. I never thought I would see the day! That said, Nutmeg isn’t afraid to let Pippa know when she has had her fill of puppy love (mainly Pippa chewing on Nutmeg’s ears) and needs her space.

Whew! What a long post. I wanted to get it all written down before Pippa is no longer a puppy and I forget what worked and what didn’t work. It’s been so much fun having Pippa around. Two dogs is certainly more work and sometimes I call us the “Hofmeyer Circus” but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.



Maybe you’re already thinking about Valentine’s Day? Maybe, if you’re like me, you think Valentine’s Day could be done a little better. I like Valentine’s Day, but I really don’t like the chiche roses and pressure to do something grand or give the perfect gift. A couple years back, Joe and I agree to never go out to eat on Valentine’s Day. We usually go out to eat a couple weeks before or a week after the actual day, avoiding the crowds and the craziness and the fixed menus.

This year, with the incredibly cold weather we’ve been having, I think my idea Valentine’s Day date goes something like this: watch a movie in our pajamas, drink red wine, eat this Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s pretty simple, really.

I don’t have a clue why it took me so long to make a flourless chocolate cake, but I’m a little embarrassed. I think I’ve always associated flourless chocolate cake with restaurant menus and sophistication and difficulty. In reality, it’s a no-brainer! I frequently find myself out of flour, but I almost always have cocoa powder and some semi-sweet chocolate and eggs, meaning I’m never more than a few ingredients away from a delicious, easy and impressive cake.

If you’re like me and have been putting off making one of these cakes, delay no more! Grab some high-quality chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar and eggs and get to baking something sweet for your sweetheart. And don’t feel the need to wait for Valentine’s Day. This cake is easy enough to make even on a weeknight, but I can’t guarantee it will last longer than a day.


Flourless Chocolate Cake for Two
Adapted from

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon high quality vanilla
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s brand unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder)

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment. Set aside.

In small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the sugar until well combined. Add eggs, whisking after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and cocoa powder until just combined.

Transfer batter into cake pan and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until edges have set and formed a crust. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Invert onto plate or platter. Cut into wedges to serve.

Happy Baking!

photo (5)

Welcome to another edition of the Espresso and Cream Home Tour. If I were a good blogger, I’m sure I would have gotten my act together and done a complete home tour series before we hit the 1 year mark in our home (on February 8th), but that’s just not going to happen. I’m trying to draw this thing out and milk it for all it’s worth, friends. ;)

If you’re looking to get caught up, here are the other home tour posts:
The Kitchen
The Blog Room 
The Dining Room 

And now, I’m moving on to the living room! Honestly, I’ve been avoiding putting together the living room post because I knew we wanted to do a major overhaul of the living room. Over the past four months, Joe and I have been putting together the living room piece by piece, and I finally have the finished product to show you all! I wish I had better “before” photos, but the photo above is the best I could find off my phone. Here were our major complaints with the room in its before state:

1. The Furniture: White couches look great in a room and they’re super versatile, but they’re also a pain to keep clean. Our couch cushion covers weren’t easy to take off and wash, and I was always worried that we were going to spill or get them dirty when guests visited. Also, I got the couch and love seat when I was a single gal living in Des Moines. Now that I have a husband and two dogs, it was much harder to keep clean.

2. The Drapes/Window Coverings: If you look at the photo above, you’ll notice that the only window coverings on our large picture window consisted of drapes that were, what seemed to us, originals to our 1952 house. Surprisingly, they weren’t all that horrible with our furniture and color scheme, but I really didn’t like the fact that we only had two options. Our drapes were either pulled back, leaving our living room open to the outside world to peer in, or they were drawn shut, allowing no natural light to pour into the room. I was really itching for blinds that would allow us to have something in between and protect our furniture a bit from the sun’s rays.

Ready to take a look at the “after” photos? Here ya go…


The biggest difference in the room comes from the new blinds. We purchased the white wooden blinds through Smith + Noble and they are amazing! I love being able to adjust now much light comes into the room. Although I never thought the old drapes were that bad, it’s amazing how fresh and modern the room feels without them. Instead of paying the $200 installation fee Joe and I opted to install them on our own, and I’m so happy we did! It was incredibly easy!  (Side note: We have a white valance that we have yet to install in the room which will cover the tops of the blinds and hide the brackets. We just haven’t gotten around to installing it yet because we need to have it cut down to fit our room.)

Although I loved the clean look of the blinds, I missed a little bit of the warmth that drapes bring to a room. To bring warmth without the heaviness of full drapes we opted to install two non-functional drape panels on either side of the picture window. There is just enough fabric to keep it warm, but not so much that it overpowers the room.

My mom helped us pull the room together and did a great job pulling patterns for the drapes. I explained to her that I really dislike color in home design but that I love mixing multiple neutral-colored patterns. These drapes totally fit with what I was looking for since they’re bold enough to add some shock value but they still fit with the overall aesthetic.

We opted to replace the love seat with two chairs from Ethan Allen, giving the room a little more open feel. And since our dogs love to sit in the sun and look out the window, our family friend helped us build a little dog bed platform out of palettes. Once we cut it to fit our space, we painted the platform in a color that fit with the room’s color scheme. When we have friends over, we move the dog bed to another room and the platform functions as a coffee table. I love multi-functional pieces of furniture! Especially when they are cheap and easy to make.


Although I would have loved to replace the coffee table and entertainment center, our budget wouldn’t allow us to do everything at once. We’re keeping those pieces for now and will think about refreshing them down the road. We did, however, get a new rug. I had my heart set on a cow hide rug for the longest time. Once Saturday I went to Homegoods to search their rug inventory and was shocked and excited to find exactly what I was looking for! The rug is artificial but it looks great and was much more affordable than a real cow hide rug.

Finally, our sofa is the Henry sofa from West Elm. We opted for the 72-inch sofa and it’s a great fit for our space. I realized that I don’t have a great shot of the sofa, but it’s incredibly versatile and super comfortable. Plus, it’s really easy to keep clean and doesn’t show spots or stains nearly as much as our previous white couch. Major win!

If you’re still with me after this monster post, thank you! Sorry for being so long-winded, but there was so much to say about a single room!


Now that January is almost over I’m allowed to start posting cookie recipes again, right? Right. After all, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means all resolutions to eat less sweets will pretty much be thrown out the window in favor of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

I never get sick of the process of baking cookies. Something about creaming the butter together with sugar, listening to the hum of the electric mixer, seeing the dough come together, it’s all incredibly relaxing. Despite the fact that I cook and bake and create recipes for a living, I still find that my greatest source of relaxation is having time to work in the kitchen without being rushed. Taking my time, sipping coffee as I work, listening to music drifting through the house. It’s not always that way, with the rushed dinner making on weeknights and frantic effort to get a million things done in a very short amount of time, which makes the relaxed moments just that much sweeter.

The only thing better than a slow and lazy day of baking is a hot bath. I’m convinced that a hot bath cures almost anything. But that really has nothing to do with cookies, so….

These cookies! They’re absolutely amazing. They’re based on my mom’s favorite cookie recipe from Ina Garten, but instead of adding semi-sweet chocolate and raisins and pecans, I added dark chocolate morsels and dried cranberries. They’re sweet and salty and tangy all in a single bite. Crisp around the edges and chewy in the center, as all good cookies should be, in my opinion.

If you’re looking for a cookie that’s fancy and impressive enough to serve as dessert at a dinner party, this would be the cookie. They’re large, bakery-style cookies and go perfectly with a cup of decaf espresso. Something about serving cookies for dessert just puts everyone at ease, doesn’t it? So go, bake some cookies this weekend, have a friend over for coffee and eat cookies while catching up on life.

Oatmeal, Dark Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 3/4 cup dark chocolate morsels
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. 

In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Beat in the oatmeal, followed by the chocolate morsels and dried cranberries.

Use a small ice cream scoop or two large spoons to scoop mounds of dough onto baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake 14 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Happy Baking!

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