Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hazelnutty Greatness

I suppose a scratch made Nutella recipe is in order.
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Hazelnuts are my absolute favorite type of nut especially when they are roasted. Everything about them is so heartwarming and Nutella brings them to a whole other level when welcoming cocoa into the mix. Such 
a grand idea they had making a cocoa hazelnut spread that knocks peanut butter right out of the water. So why not make your own version that could be slightly better for you, but still just as mouthwatering? 

This recipe makes about an 8 ounce jar of the good stuff. Let's get started!


  • 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a little over 1/4 cup of whole milk (or any other type of milk, like almond milk etc.)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
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Makin' the good stuff:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lay the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet. Place them in the oven for about 10 minutes to get them roasted and to get your house smelling fantastic. Grab a damp kitchen towel and place all the roasted hazelnuts on top of it. Wrap them in the towel and rub them vigorously (this removes the little shells that they are wrapped in). The whole shell will not rub off completely and that's perfectly okay! 
  2. Place the roasted hazelnuts in your food processor and let them whirl for about 5-10 minutes until they are ground into a small powder form. (food processor's vary drastically so just keep a close eye on things). Keep things whirling and add the coconut oil to the hazelnut powder. At this time watch for it to get smooth and creamy, then stop. (this can also take some time to get the right consistency 10-12 minutes). 
  3. Now stop the food processor, scrape the sides down and add in the rest of the ingredients. Blend it all up for about 5 minutes The spread will get really thick and that's when you know to stop. Remember to taste test it before you scoop it all out, you may want to add more cocoa or sugar depending on your preference! 
  4. You want it to be as silky as you can possibly get it, but don't expect the same Nutella texture straight from the jar. A scratch made nut butter will always be somewhat rustic and have little bits of nut throughout. That's the BEST part trust me. 
  5. Scrape the hazelnut spread into a jar or air tight container and store it in your fridge.

Happy Hazelnut Spreading!

Monday, July 28, 2014


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*Pocahontas is all the rage these days, and so are baby toes. But that's an always type thing.

The Fresh Market

You know what makes me giddy inside?
Organic markets.
We have one close by to our house that we go in once in a blue moon (prices are...yeesh.) So it's pretty much a treat to stop by in there and grab all the greatness that isn't found in a local grocery store. The greatness on this trip = raw organic hazelnuts. My ninja has been really handy lately and becoming a daily used tool. With Ryan and I both exploring the concept of eating healthier, it's becoming my best friend in the kitchen. So I'm bringing scratch made to another level. Step aside Nutella.
Walking into the Fresh Market makes me feel so humble and cozy. The lights are dim unlike the eye scorching fluorescents in most supermarkets and there is always so some sort of smell that lingers throughout the store that kind of entrances you. Maybe that's their motive to get you to splurge to the fullest...hm. 
Well, I bypassed the lovely aromas and went straight for the nut bins. The nuts are all safely tucked away in their own little barrels with a silver scoop that tags along. I think that's one of my favorite things about The Fresh Market. The fact that little scoops and self serve centers are scattered throughout the store for coffee beans and candy and snacks.
I scoop my hazelnuts and weigh them. It's like 10 bucks for a bag and I'm sighing over the cart. Instead of doing the walk of shame to the register to purchase my overpriced nuts, I decide to peruse the market fully. Why not right?
The produce section was calling my name, so I ended up with a pair of the juiciest plums ever to enter my mouth. Then the walk of shame didn't seem so shameful. 
Oddly enough, no matter how much I spend at that place, it's always a necessity every few months to make my rounds and gawk at the gigantic apples and prices and still feel giddy about the rustic simplicity of it all.
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Oh and the scratch made Nutella? FANTASTIC. So much yum in one jar. A super easy recipe will be shared soon.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Patches of Nature

After buying our new car we were so antsy to take it anywhere and everywhere, so a few weeks ago we headed out in search of a new journey with Lola. It was a Sunday evening and the sun was melting into the clouds as the day was soon coming to an end. We found ourselves at The Florida Botanical Gardens. There is something about gardens in general that make me feel so alive. Maybe it's the unconscious feeling that all the surrounding plants are actually living and breathing just like us.
Maybe it's my forever dream to own a garden of my own, with paths of flowers and tomatoes and citrus trees. Anywho, this place was magical in it's own little way and made us feel like magic.
The place was so empty of people and the hustle of the city life surrounding it. We took our time.

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We raised our heads to gaze at all the different banana trees and we traced each and every plant searching for the charms it held within. 
We pushed forward to the flowers, the trees and even the several ponds that were scattered about the Gardens. Lola adored being surrounded by so much nature and even being one with it while she sat upon carved out tree stumps made especially for little tushies. 
The sun was just about gone when we decided to leave this humble patch of nature and escape back into the real world. I think the next time we embark on the Botanical Gardens it will be with picnic basket in hand. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fruit Ninja

So Sunday morning my parents brought us a box of heaven in the form of a Ninja blender/food processor. They can be so sneaky sometimes, but Costco had a great deal on them for like 80 bucks off the normal price and you get two machines in one, PLUS single serve cups that knock the magic bullet out of the water.
I never thought it was possible to fall in love with appliance until I gave this baby a whirl. Well...the KitchenAid mixer will always be my baby, but they are all different forms of babies to me. It's so funny, our little apartment kitchen is slowly but surely getting decked out in superb kitchen goodies, but our kitchen has like one prep station, a mediocre oven, and it's like the smallest rectangle of space ever built. 
We make it work though, and all these great little goodies are what keep us sane in the kitchen.
So to make things just THAT much easier, I spent about 15-20 minutes chopping up fruits and packing them in small ziplocs. Why? 
Well, since Lola is eating legit meals now with real food not the jar stuff, my breakfast has pretty much diminished completely since I'm too enveloped in getting her breakfast thrown together. So I spent a small portion of my night the other night, making fruit combos for breakfast smoothies, marking the bags accordingly and throwing them in the freezer. That way I can just plop them in the blender in the mornings and BAM breakfast!

I also found this little gem on pinterest and it's sort of been my guide to making a great smoothie.
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Yep, I definitely see a lot of smoothies, hummus and salsa in our near future. And maybe a few frozen coffee beverages thrown in for good measure. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Little Scorching Hot Mermaid Birthday Party

We decided to celebrate Lola's birthday on the Sunday before her actual birthday because we like to live our lives rebelliously. No, but really we did it because we were trying to escape the crazy Fourth of July freaks on the weekend of her real birthday.
Ultimately this means that we got to celebrate her birthday twice, which turned out being the best part of all.

I was super overly prepared for this day. I had like four big reusable bags filled with decorations that were packed a week in advance, we got the food and cake ordered on time and got all the drinks and food nicely set up in the car the night before so there would be no mishaps. My parents watched Lola while Ryan and I headed to Phillipee park to start the decorating process like 2 and a half hours in advance. I WAS READY.

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But not really.
After an hour of being out there I was drenched in sweat (it was 11 AM people). My forever hatred of Florida remains deep deep in my soul. Also, after an hour of decorating, getting it all cute and super decked out the ferocious wind starts gusting through blowing all our hard work to hell. Literal hell, because it was 100 million degrees outside. sigh.
And to top off all that lovely excitement I go to take pictures and forgot my memory card at home, lost in the wilderness. Instead of having a mental breakdown, I sat down with my best friend and stuck a super fancy paper straw in a cup of Hawaiian Punch and let it all happen.

Guests start arriving and so does Lola with my parents. Everything is going peachy until all our guy friends start trying to wish her a Happy Birthday and the world probably ended just right then. She cried...and cried...and cried some more. And if any guy (yes only men) of any sort looked in her direction she started crying alligator tears. We scooted the guys off, with all their dreams of being Lola's favorite, to go play some sort of sport so Lola could actually some what enjoy her birthday party. And that she did, with sweat running through her wisps of hair and being held by Mommy or Daddy the majority of the time.
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The last half of the party ended up being a whole lot better, thanks to melted cake smashing and icing face painting. She went to town on that cake and the world kept on spinning even with all the men spinning with it, and she started to be somewhat okay with that.
I was so happy to throw her a party and get all her family and friends together to watch her turn One (kind of). All the people that have been there for us this whole year and supported us through it all. You guys are truly the greatest and I can't wait for Lola to grow up knowing such wonderful people.
 photo f3e317382475780806be93b38c2a654b_zpsbf6841b3.jpg  photo 25cd1b58424bd4a5fd6c13e3d7657b56_zps80319e09.jpg  photo 6ddd7fbf9103d7931780beb53a7ed815_zpsa78d1246.jpg ^ yep we got a play kitchen for a 1 year old. I couldn't contain myself.

Now as far as next year goes...I'm not too sure yet, but I have eternally vowed to never allow an outdoor party involving Lola's birthday ever ever ever again. Unless a pool is thrown in the mix. Time to get creative from hear on out.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

June in Photos

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Lola is One

My little Lola turned 1 year old today. Actually precisely at 9:55 P.M.
A year ago at 9:55:
I was laying in my hospital bed with a rag on my head, Ryan at my side with a Monster energy drink in one hand, and Lola was being welcomed onto this earth with a big wailing cry. The nurse laid her directly on my bare chest and our heartbeats connected. At that moment I felt like the one thing in this world that could keep her as safe as she could ever be.
I know one day I will have to let her go and so she can try to change the world and stuff, but I will always stand by those words.
I will always keep her safe, no matter the circumstances.

This year has been the most beautiful experience of my life. It's funny how such a small being can change your life so drastically. It took so much adjusting and loopy turns, but we've made it. We are still making it and now our adventures are becoming more and more crazy since she will be taking her own little steps on this earth right along side us soon.
There is so much yet to come, but I'm just kind of relishing in these last 12 months. I'm taking a swim with the little moments that made my heart pump a little stronger every day. All the belly laughs, the early morning bottles, all the little things we did all over this town as a trio, all the scary sick nights, and of course all the firsts.

Everything about this year has been, gosh, I don't know... indescribable.
Our job as parents is to be the guide through the messy mazes of this life. Never did I think the tables would somehow turn and my (now) one year old would be holding my hand and guiding me along the way as well. I have learned more about myself this year than any year of my life. I really thought I had myself all figured out until I became a Mom.
I learned that I sometimes over control situations and that sometimes the easiest solution is to just let it all go.
I learned that waking up early, has a lot more pros than cons. There really is life at 7 AM.
I learned to just walk away and breathe. It really does work.
I learned to accept help and quit trying to be wonder woman.
I actually taught myself how to cook this year, and I'm damn good at it. Which in turn has taught me to keep up with things that I normally would give up on (this blog, keeping the house clean and well organized, opening up an etsy shop with handmade goodies, and reading many many more books).

Being a 'stay at home' mom scared the living hell out of me, but oh my gosh I would never trade doing it for anything in the world. It's funny. I don't talk about this often because...whatever, but before I got pregnant, I said over and over again that I was not a "mom" type person, I was clueless and I was happy with my life and didn't want kids. Not that I hated kids or anything, it's just the idea of them didn't mesh well with what my "used to be," future held.
When Lola was born, I fell in love with this mom thing and especially staying home with her.

So as you can tell, so much has changed.
A year came and went. I now have a happy, healthy 1 year old that is bound and determined for another year of exploration with Mommy and Daddy side by side.

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