Friday, May 31, 2013

Goodbye Spring, Hello Summer!

Happy Friday everyone and cheers to the weekend!



Last month, I posted a little to-do list of things I was hoping to accomplish this spring. I know that summer doesn't technically start for another few weeks, but with today today being the last day of May I figured that it was as good a time as any to post an update on my progress!

Spring 2013 To-Do List


Get a hair cut--Check! 


Go to San Francisco--Check and check!


Focus on eating 80-90% Paleo--Check!
Definitely haven't been perfect with this one but now that so much great produce is in season, it's much easier to eat lots of fruits and veggies!


Try a new recipe for dinner each week--Check!
Although I can't say that we've exactly tried one each week, we have made quite a few new dishes recently that we've really enjoyed. I have a hard time blogging about dinner recipes though because I'm usually starving and just want to eat, plus since it's dark out the photos never turn out well. However, some of the new meals we've enjoyed include these potato skins, this steak with chimichurri sauce, this shrimp scampi, and fish tacos! (Working on putting together a good recipe for those to share soon!)

Visit a National Park 
While we did go camping, we weren't able to make it a national park--hoping we'll be able to   make it to Yosemite some time this summer though! 


Clean out my closet--Check!


Invest in some new spring pieces--Check!
I picked up these boyfriend jeans, these sandals, these shorts, this tanks, this dress, and a few other new pieces lately. I still have a few holes in my wardrobe that I'd like to fill, but I think that's pretty much always true for every woman!

Start running again
I actually did try running a few times this spring, but my knee seemed to bother me a little bit so I haven't been pushing it. Instead, I'm trying to attend spin class more regularly. 

Be more organized at work 
Pretty sure that this will be a perpetual item on my to-do list that never quite gets accomplished.


Go wine tasting--Check!
Even though we had a great time in Napa/Sonoma recently, there's so much to see in that region that I'd really love to go back again this summer! 

Stay on top of spring cleaning
Yeah, this didn't quite happen as much as I would have liked--oh well!

Schedule time to connect with friends
I wasn't as good about this as I would have liked, another work in progress!


Get out and hike--Check! 

Overall, it's been a great spring but I am so looking forward to summer! The upcoming month is going to be filled with lots of travel, weddings, graduations, bridal showers, and lots of time with friends and family--I can't wait! On that note, have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Frosted Lemon Sugar Cookies



This weekend, we attended a birthday barbecue and because I'll take any chance I can get to bake, I offered to bring a dessert! I knew right away that I wanted to do cookies as a opposed to cupcakes/bars since I figured there would be cake at the party. Plus, I know that not everyone likes cake (although clearly those people are crazy because cake is delicious) and so I thought that cookies would be a good alternative dessert option. With Memorial Day weekend being the unofficial kick-off to summer, I wanted to do something fresh and bright so lemon seemed like the perfect flavor choice!



I had pinned this recipe for lemon sugar cookies recently and thought this would be a great time to try it out as frosted sugar cookies are a personal favorite of mine. I actually ended up using different cookie/frosting recipes from my original pin (mainly because the pin called for cake flour and I didn't have any on hand), but I was really happy with the end result. The cookies soft and chewy (I'd suggest underbaking them slightly, they keep better!) and the tangy frosting was the perfect addition. They were sweet (but not too sweet) and lemony (but not too lemony) and everyone seemed to love them!



Frosted Lemon Sugar Cookies 
Recipe Source: Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients 
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 large lemons
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
4. Add lemon zest, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Mix until combined. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
5. Roll rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets,  about 1 1/2 inches apart.
6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown around the edges and set. Let cookies sit on the baking sheets for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.



  I knew that I wanted to do frosted sugar cookies, so I modified the frosting from this recipe slightly to whip up some lemon buttercream to go on top of my cookies: 
Ingredients 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
3 cups confectioners sugar
Juice from two lemons (about 4-5 tablespoons)
1 tsp of vanilla 

Directions
Combine butter and sugar with an electric mixer (be sure to gradually add in sugar!) until combined. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy.



The original frosting recipe called for both lemon zest and lemon juice, but I thought the frosting seemed way too stiff, so I opted to leave out the zest and just add more juice. This definitely makes the frosting fairly tart, but because the lemon flavor in the cookies is a little more subtle I thought they could handle it! I think lemon is such a perfect flavor for a summer dessert, and these cookies seemed to be a big hit at the barbecue. Definitely give them a try for your next get together! Xoxo

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Recap


friday night costco run in my new jack rogers // standard saturday morning at our house
so happy that peonies are back in season // family trail run // husband taking in the views
little lizard on the trail // lake tahoe from castle rock, never gets old // tennis time
 fish tacos & the first corn on the cob of the year // catching up with my friend kelly 
shakshuka for sunday brunch // lola loving her new bed // birthday barbecue at the schues
ryan & ethan keeping warm on a chilly tahoe night // i love cake (a lot) // cam loves cats
recovering relaxing on monday with lola judging me // delicious watermelon // happy place

That was our Memorial Day weekend in a nutshell. 

It was really low-key and so nice to relax. We slept in, watched a little too much HGTV, spent some time outside, visited with friends, and enjoyed life's simple pleasures. I didn't get out our actual camera all weekend (except to take a few photos of some new recipes I tried out on Sunday which I'm excited to share soon!) so Instagrams are all I've got from the past three days. These pictures make me smile and have me excited for another summer here in Tahoe! I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend as well, yay for a short week! Xoxo

(You can follow me on Instagram @inthepinkandgreen)

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Weekend Visiting Sonoma & Alcatraz

Happy Friday everyone! 

I'm so looking forward to this long weekend. Normally with an extra day off work, we'd be headed out to town to travel somewhere. However, we've got a really busy month of June coming up, so decided we just wanted to stay home and relax. After all, we do live in a place where people come for vacation so we figured that we should enjoy it! 

But this past weekend, we did go out of town and had a great time! Cameron's parents flew down from Portland to the Bay Area last week, and so we drove down to meet them just outside of Napa on Friday night. Saturday morning, we headed to adorable downtown Sonoma for breakfast. We've driven through Sonoma a few times before, but this was really our first time to stop and check it out. It's such a charming town full of adorable shops and restaurants, we easily could have spent the whole weekend here!

 
 

We ate breakfast at El Dorado Kitchen, which is located right on the main square (thanks for the recommendation Natasha!) and everything we had was really delicious. (Especially my duck confit hash!) After breakfast, we spent some time walking around the charming downtown area. The weather was amazing and everything was in bloom! 

This mission is the northernmost Franciscan mission in California, really neat to see!
Nothing like cacti and a lemon tree to let you know you're in California!
Beautiful flowers on a giant cactus in front of the mission
Cameron and his dad in downtown Sonoma
There are lots of cute shops in town and since wine is such a big part of the culture in Sonoma, quite a few stores/galleries have wine tasting bars inside them!
Cute little French-inspired flea market
I was adding this picture to the post and Cameron goes "Wow, you are such a blogger"--I guess taking pictures of vintage mason jars will do that to you--LOL!

 After exploring downtown Sonoma for awhile, we were ready for a little snack. We stopped at the Sunflower Caffe, another cute spot located right on the town square! This seems to be a popular spot, and it would be a great choice for breakfast or lunch!

Cam and I split a Nutella milkshake--SO GOOD.
Although we could have stayed in downtown Sonoma all day exploring, we decided to head out to the wineries! Our (tentative) original plan was to stop in a winery or two in Sonoma and then head over to Napa, but we just decided to go with the flow. Our first stop was Chateau St. Jean, located on the north end of the Sonoma Valley. This was actually a winery we went to with our friends last spring, but Cam's parents are wine club members here so we figured that it was probably worth stopping--and it ended up being an excellent choice! Chateau St. Jean has absolutely gorgeous grounds and really gives you that quintessential winery experience. We started out in the main tasting room and did the standard tasting, but then because of Cam's parents' wine club membership we were able to head over to a different building to do a special reserve wine tasting out on their patio with a beautiful view of the vineyard. It was a really incredible experience and we probably got to taste at around 15 different wines! Here are some pictures from the afternoon...

Heading out to do the Reserve Tasting :)
Amazing view of the vineyards from the patio during our tasting--we had such gorgeous weather!
 

Although our original plan was to try to hit a few different wineries over the course of the day, we had a such a great time at Chateau St. Jean that we just decided to go with it and enjoy the afternoon there. I'm so glad we did, it was an absolutely perfect day!

One thing to keep in mind if you do venture to Napa or Sonoma is that the wineries close pretty early, typically by 4:30 or 5pm. After our afternoon at Chateau St. Jean, it was fairly late in the day but we still decided to head over to Napa Valley. 


 There are a handful of wineries that stay open a little later, so at the recommendation of one of the guys at Chateau St. Jean we decided to check out Merryvale in St. Helena. This tasting room is one of the few open late (until 6:30pm) so it was fairly busy when we got there. The wine and the service were definitely not as good as at Chateau St. Jean, but it was still fun to stop. My favorite thing about the winery is that they had this incredible historic cask room that you can rent out for events, and overall, it wasn't a bad little winery to check out! 

Seriously, how incredible is this room?! It would be so amazing for a party :)
 After finishing our tasting at Merryvale, we had a little time to kill before our dinner reservation so we headed to downtown Napa to check out the Oxbow Public Market! This is definitely a foodie haven with lots of gourmet food stands, and it was fun to explore and get a little snack to tide us over until dinner...after all, wine tasting makes you hungry! It would be an excellent place to get breakfast or lunch if you're in Napa.

Gott's Roadside is apparently a pretty famous Napa Valley place to eat; they have a location in St. Helena (right across from Merryvale actually!) and then this location next to the Oxbow Market. We didn't try it, but I'd love to next time we're in town!
Couldn't resist getting a few Kara's Cupcakes (they have some other locations in the Bay Area as well), the bigger one is a S'mores cupcake with toasted marshmallow frosting--delish!
 For dinner, we ate at Mustards Grill in Yountville, which is somewhat of a Napa institution. We first heard about it on Food Network's show The Best Thing I Ever Ate where Bobby Flay was talking about their famous Mongolian pork chop, and so Cam was really excited to try it out. It's definitely very meat-based cuisine, and I probably wouldn't suggest it if you're a vegetarian! I ended up ordering the lamb special which was served with a goat cheese risotto--IT WAS AWESOME. I didn't get any pictures of the dish itself, but seriously it was so good. I'm honestly getting hungry just thinking about it.


Sunday morning, the weather was beautiful once again so we got on the road and headed to San Francisco! I completely forgot that the big Bay to Breakers run was the same day, but luckily we didn't hit too much traffic and it was actually pretty fun to see lots of people dressed up in their crazy costumes. We actually took Cam's parents to a few places we visited in Hayes Valley last month, and it was fun to get to visit them again. Then Sunday afternoon it was time for something that Cam and I have been meaning to since our first trip to SF since moving to Tahoe last year--visit Alcatraz! It's a super touristy thing to do, but it's also pretty cool. I actually went when I was a kid, but Cam hadn't been so we thought that it would be really fun thing to do with his parents. We took one of the afternoon boats over the island, a very quick ride that offers some great views of the city! 


Once on the island, I was really impressed by all the gorgeous plants in bloom! The weather was beautiful, perfect for walking around and exploring the island. We did the audio tour of the prison, which has a pretty interesting history. The audio tour features commentary from former prisoners and guards and really helps to give you insight to what life must have been like for inmates on the Rock! 

This was the view out one of the windows in the prison; on the audio commentary, one of the prisoners said that one of the toughest things about Alcatraz was the fact that you were acutely aware of just what you were missing on the outside world. I'm sure that constantly having to stare out at those beautiful views of the Bay definitely made people regret what they'd done to go to Alcatraz in the first place!
I loved all the gorgeous succulents!

After heading back to the city, we had an excellent dinner in the North Beach/Little Italy area. Vicoletto was a place we picked out simply due to positive Yelp reviews, but it was very authentic Italian food and we all really enjoyed it. I just love this area of San Francisco!
 
 
Even though Cameron and I have been to SF quite a few times now, I fall in love with the city a little more each time I visit. There's always new things to discover and there's just something so captivating about being there. I can't wait to go back soon! 

Well, that's another great weekend on the books (err, blog) and now it's time to get started on another! Have a fantastic (and safe!) Memorial Day everyone! Xoxo

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