Super Cute (And Easy) Thanksgiving Desserts

Everyone loves a good pumpkin pie, don’t get it twisted. But chances are that I won’t be baking that pumpkin pie, because I’ll be opting for something a little simpler. A little less… time consuming. Plus, Grandma La Rosa has always been the baked goods lady in our family, so I’ll leave that honor up to her.

All that being said, there are some incredibly low maintenance and really adorable desserts to make this Thanksgiving, whether you’re spending it with your family, or hosting a Friendsgiving.

  • Nutter Butter Turkey Cupcakes are probably the easiest way to top a cupcake without going crazy with icing designs or fondant. Not that I’d even know how to use fondant, but you get the idea.

Nutter butter turkey cupcake recipe

  • Mini Pumpkin pies that you make in a muffin tin. The recipe is insanely easy, and will save you going through the hassle of making a full-out crust from scratch.

Muffin Tin Pumpkin Pie

  • A Thanksgiving cookie pop, made with golden Oreos, a peanut butter cracker, and candy corn

Thanksgiving cookie pop

Via Best Friends for Frosting

  • Caramel apple dip fit for a turkey

Thanksgiving Apple Dip

Via Make and Takes

  • Peppermint Pilgrim Hats, made with three ingredients: peanut butter cups, peppermint patties, and white icing

Thanksgiving Peppermint Pilgrim Hats

See the full recipe here

  • Plymouth Rock cookies, because YOLO. You prepare these like you would any sugar cookie, and use a toothpick to “engrave” the date, plus a little food coloring to get the gray-green glaze. Full recipe here.

Plymouth Rock Cookie Recipe

  • Acorn Cookies that you can pop in your mouth, and only 3 ingredients: Hershey kisses, mini Nutter Butters, and peanut butter

Acorn CookiesSee the full recipe here

  • Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprint Cookies. I don’t know about you, but thumbprint cookies are kind of EVERYTHING to me. They look really simple, and at the same time, like cookie-sized perfection. Plus, the Hershey’s pumpkin kiss makes it really easy to label this a Thanksgiving treat. (Are you noticing a big theme here with the candy additions?)

Pumpkin Thumbprint Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

What Thanksgiving Is Like As An Adult

I know that it’s not technically Thanksgiving yet, but a girl can dream, right?

I’m headed home to Florida this week, because Thanksgiving tends to be a pretty big holiday in my family. Unlike Christmas, which my parents, brother and I spend at home, we head up to our grandparents ranch for Thanksgiving to spend it with my extended family as well. Which means I’ll get to see my grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles. Or, at least, most of them.

When we were younger, it went without saying that we would all be at the ranch for Thanksgiving. My cousins from Tallahassee would drive down, and my cousins who live on the ranch would absolutely be there. We’d spend the night, and sometimes the weekend, because it was rare to have all of us under one roof. But now that we’re older, things have changed. Three of my cousins are married, my brother is in med school, I live in Los Angeles, another cousin lives in San Francisco, while another has moved all the way to Alaska. Getting home for the holiday isn’t as easy as it used to be for us.

I’m taking a red eye on Wednesday night and landing in Florida on Thursday morning, the day of. My parents are picking me up at the airport and driving us directly to the ranch. My brother couldn’t get out of school, so he’ll be spending the holiday with his soon-to-be doctor friends. I’m going to probably be exhausted, and running on adrenaline by the time we get to the ranch.

But I also really don’t care, because I’m so excited to get the time to spend with the family who will be there. (Albeit, it’s a very small crowd this year. Maybe two of my cousins will be coming, and my grandparents, and one set of aunt and uncle.) Still, it’s a tradition that I’ve only missed once in my life, when I decided to stay in LA for the holiday and celebrate a Friendsgiving. Which was fun, but not what I wanted in the end. And now that I’m older, a lot of these holidays feel so much more precious to me. Probably because it’s hard to tell what it will look like even a year from now. Someone else could move away, someone could get married and go celebrate with a different family, who knows.

I’m really thankful for the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with my family in Florida this year. And I’m hopeful for many more to come.

Oh, and if you’re curious as to what E will be up to this year, he’s headed back to Arkansas to celebrate with his parents. We’re officially meeting each other’s parents over the Christmas holidays. (Eeeep!)

Here are some photos from our last Thanksgiving in Florida. It’s really beautiful down on our little Brooksville ranch, right?!

La Rosa Family Ranch

The sign that greets you when you drive onto our property. I’m a La Rosa, and my cousins are the Coopers.

La Rosa Ranch and our barrels of hay

It’s a real, working ranch, and we’ve got plenty of hay to feed the horses and cows we have.

White Horse

One of our gorgeous horses, posing for a glamour shot.

Grandma

My grandmother, and the woman I owe my redhair to, cooking up some gravy at the stove.

Homemade Biscuits

My grandmother’s homemade biscuits… Holy guacamole are these to die for.

Tree swing

This is me on our tree swing. It’s the same swing we’ve been using since I was a little girl, and it feels just as awesome every time I use it.

“The Hunger Games,” As Told By Cats

First of all, I’m kind of obsessed with The Hunger Games trilogy. I read all of the books within two weeks, and went to the first movie dressed up as Katniss. (Did I mention I was 27-years-old at the time?)

So, when I saw this video of cats “re-enacting” the movie, I knew it would be for me. Enjoy, and you’re welcome.

Side note: Part of me is terrified of things like this, because I know that when I get a cat of my own, I’ll be doing things like this to it.

5 Fashion Trends I Saw (And Loved) In New York

I was in New York last week, and couldn’t help but notice all of the delicious fall trends that were popping up. It’s just starting to cool down in Los Angeles, and winter weather fashions tend to reach us a little slower as a result. But I spotted a few that I have a feeling are going to be big this year, and I am SO READY FOR THEM TO BE.

  • Leather-sleeve coats in all shapes, colors and sizes (oh my!)

Leather Sleeve CoatsIf you’re looking for one this winter, here’s an awesome list of leather-sleeve coats to fit every budget.

BCBG Envelope Fox Clutch

 

  • Jewelry that’s all about initials. I saw this in necklace and bracelet form, and thought it was just so feminine and delicate. Plus, it’s inexpensive, and you can get the below one for just $23.

Initial Charm Bracelet

  • Leather-trim leggings, which are great if you can find a long strip down the side to elongate your gams, and even better at $25.

Leather Trim Leggings

  • And speaking of leggings, I spotted plenty of black leggings paired with a casual jean shirt. It has the effect of looking effortlessly chic, while also being insanely comfy.

Fall Fashion Trends To WatchSanta, if you’re listening, I’ll take one of each.

 

 

Amazing Recipes From The Pioneer Woman That You Have To Try

Most of the time I’m pretty good about cooking for myself during the week. I don’t know if it’s something I inherited from my Italian side, or I just feel guilty about buying groceries and not using them. But either way, cooking is not usually an issue for me.

However, since I’m in the midst of moving, and haven’t had the motivation to unpack my boxes marked kitchen, I’ve been doing the next best thing: watching other people cook on Food Network shows.


Have you all heard of The Pioneer Woman? I feel like I found her first, long before the Food Network did. Because I used to read her blog and cook recipes from there. It was like I’d found this heavenly midwestern angel to show me how to cook the damn beef, and then she was stolen from me. Stolen by the TV executives who seek to destroy everything I love.

That being said, and much to my surly dismay, they haven’t actually destroyed anything. Now more than ever, I get even more of The Pioneer Woman than I did before. (Those TV exec bastards know what they’re doing!)

Since I didn’t make anything from her recipes this week, I thought I’d share ones that I’ve made in the past and have come out amazingly well:

  • Spinach Artichoke Pasta: I cut this recipe in half, because the serving size is for 10 people, and ain’t nobody got time for that. But I have to say that it was super easy to make, and took no time at all. It also was really tangy, because of the artichokes, and had a big kick with the red pepper. It was creamy and filling, perfect pasta to make on a cold night.
  • Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas: I justified making these because they are “healthy” with kale and squash. But, really, they are coated in butter. Delicious, irresistible butter. They came out great, though I’d say are better to eat on a date night than as an app. (Butter hands, ya know.)
  • Meatloaf: Let me just say that my boyfriend E has always said that his father’s meatloaf cannot be beat. While I’d never say that the PW’s meatloaf beat out E’s dad’s recipe, I think it came pretty damn close. (The thing is covered in bacon strips. It’s basically meatloaf on bacon crack.)
  • Pumpkin Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream: As someone who hates whipped cream, I can honestly say that whiskey whipped cream is tasty. Truly, it doesn’t taste like whipped cream, even though it is. It’s like whiskey ice cream, on top of a pumpkin cake. I made this for a dinner party, and it went over very well.

Hopefully I’ll make it through that kitchen box sometime this week, but if not, I’m just glad I can watch other people do it. Speaking of, what are your favorite food shows to watch? I could use some suggestions, just in case…

11 Things I Learned While Wedding Dress Shopping

(Drumroll, please.) My friend Kristen is getting married next year, and I’m going to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. (Fin the drumroll.)

This was intensely exciting for me, because while I’ve been a bridesmaid before, this was going to be the very first wedding where I actually lived in the same state as the bride. Meaning that this time around, I’d get to participate in the wedding dress shopping, planning, and just general excitement, instead of doing all that the weekend of the wedding.

That is, until Kristen got an amazing job offer in New York that she absolutely had to take. We’d always planned to do things, like the bachelorette and dress shopping, on our home turf in Los Angeles. But since she’s now working on a film, we had to speed up the plans and get it done before she starts filming.

Kleinfeld's New York

 

This meant hopping on a plane and flying to New York with my fellow bridesmaid, Gabby, for the week so we could fulfill our bridesmaid duties. I missed the dress shopping and bachelorette of the last two weddings I was part of, and I didn’t want that to be the case again. Plus, Kristen, Gabby, and I have never all been in New York at the same time together. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun. Especially when we headed to Kleinfeld’s to try on wedding dresses. (And for those who aren’t familiar, it’s the Kleinfeld’s made famous by the TLC show, Say Yes To The Dress.)

Here are some of the important lessons I gleaned as a bridesmaid while shopping for my friend’s wedding dress:

  1. Come prepared with photos, or they’ll call you a hot mess. This is a real thing that happened to Kristen, who, like plenty of other brides, likes a couple of different styles. While showing her top picks to the dress liaisons, they called her a hot mess. (In a loving way… I think.)
  2. Someone will probably cry, and it will probably be your mom.
  3. You will get molested, just a little bit. Someone is going to have to help you hold your bits in place, or perk em up. Either way, plan on getting felt up.
  4. Bring snacks and water, it will take way longer than you think. Gabby and I were so thirsty… so very thirsty.
  5. Momma is always right. As was the case when it came to Kristen’s mother, who had a vision, and ended up being 100% on the mark with it.
  6. Consider the underwear in advance, and the bra situation. Kristen wore a strapless bra, which was good, because if you don’t wear a strapless, you’re going to be a little effed when you try things on.
  7. Everyone will see your naughty bits, no matter how hard you try to be a lady. (Long story short: You’ll be changing in front of people, things will slip out, and you’ll become even closer than ever.)
  8. Bigger is always better when it comes to accessories, especially veils.
  9. Even if you go in with a few ideas of what you want, chances are you’ll end up loving something completely different.
  10. There’s always room for negotiating when it comes to the price of a dress, so don’t be afraid to haggle.
  11. Perhaps the most important thing, though, is to bring people who you trust and love to give you honest feedback. It’s one of the most important days of your life, so it makes sense to have the most important people in your life there to enjoy it with you.

Weekend Trip: Big Bear Lake In November

We all have that one magical place that makes everything better: for some people, it’s the beach, for others it’s a spa, and for me it’s Big Bear, CA. Every time I go there, it’s like anything bad goes away and is magically replaced with all of the good feels. So many good feels.

Boat-On-Big-Bear-Lake

The first time I visited Big Bear was October of 2012 for E’s birthday. Neither of us had ever been, but we knew there were cabins, and mountains, and hiking. (Oh my!) We stayed at Eagle’s Nest bed and breakfast in one of their small, but adorable, cabins. I had told the owners that it was E’s birthday, and they had a stuffed bear and coffee mug waiting as birthday gifts in the room. That was pretty adorable, actually. There was a working fireplace, and a seriously amazing stack of pancakes every morning. We went hiking during the day, and I only slid down the mountain on my ass once. That’s pretty decent, considering my clumsy track record.

Since it was October, we also went to the local Oktoberfest activities. Which were hilariously silly and filled with local flair. (Like the man in lederhosen and pigtails who let us cut in line for beer.)

E-at-Big-Bear-Lake

After that, we ended up returning to Big Bear for my birthday in January. At that time of year, things look quite different: snow covered roads, lots of snow, and did I mention snow? The trip was equally relaxing, and had that wonderful effect of making me feel like I was away from LA, but somehow right where I was supposed to be.Big-Bear-Trees

E and I went back to Big Bear this past weekend, and stayed at the Gold Mountain Manor B&B. It was a little more off the beaten path, but the owner, Cathy, had amazing things like happy hour every day at 5 p.m., and fresh cookies a little after lunch. She made us feel totally at home, and totally relaxed. The weather also helped quite a bit. It’s still in the 80s in Los Angeles, but Big Bear dipped into the 20s at night, and it made me feel like it was finally about that time for the holidays.  Notti-Potti-in-Big-Bear

Did I mention that Big Bear is an insane town? As E said, “Everything is normal, but just slightly off.” See the Notti Potti bike we stumbled upon…Big-Bear-LakeNow that we’re back in LA, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to find a cabin in Big Bear and spend the rest of my winter there. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll be able to spend a whole week there and find the meaning of life. Or just more of those fresh baked cookies that Cathy serves up. Whatever works for me, really.

 

The Benefits of Writing, In Infograph Form

Infographics are pretty much the best thing since cream cheese filled bagel holes. (And yes, those are a thing that exists IRL.) Maybe it’s because my attention span is shot, or I just like to look at pretty things. Either way, I found these badass graphics that relate to writing and wanted to share.

This first one is about the physical act of writing and how it affects our brain. I thought it was interesting to see that writing can have the same calming effects as meditation, that telling a story with emotion can force your readers to connect in a different way, and that books have 50% more rare words than TV. (So, TV writing could stand to get a bit smarter. If for no other reason than people need some intellectual stimulation.)

What Writing Does To Your Brain

This second graphic surprised me quite a bit. I usually get a little sleepy when I drink beer. Interesting to see, though, that by having one beer, you can actually be more creative.

Coffee vs. BeerDrink up, writers!

Mushroom, Spinach, Tomato and Red Wine Pasta

You know those meals you make when there’s absolutely nothing left in the fridge, but you’re hungry and need SOMETHING?

This was one of those meals, and it actually turned out pretty swell.
Whole wheat pasta with spinach, red wine, and tomatoes

Whatever I Had In The Fridge Pasta:
  • Handful of whole wheat pasta, and a handful of regular pasta (Yup, I only had so much of each, so I combined the two! You could also just use one or the other, if you’ve got enough of it.)
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups of white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper
  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese (or less, depending on how cheesy you like it)
Directions:
  • Generously salt a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Toss in the pasta and set a timer for 6 minutes.
  • While the pasta cooks, put a skillet on medium heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. After a few seconds, add in the mushrooms, tomatoes, a teaspoon of salt, and a few dashes of the red and black pepper. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened and browned, and stir occasionally.
  • Turn the heat to low, and add in the red wine and spinach.
  • Drain the pasta, and add it directly into the skillet. Stir the pasta and veggies together until well mixed. Top with a half cup of parmesan and stir again.
  • Serve with whatever red wine you have left, and the remaining half cup of cheese for extra topping.

Important Apartment Question: What To Do With High Ceilings?

The ceilings in my current apartment are so low, that E can almost touch the top when he reaches his arms up. If he jumped, he’d easily reach it, and might even hit his head.

This won’t be the case, however, when we move into our new apartment. The ceilings are 10-11 feet tall, which is a lot more space than I’m used to dealing with. In some spots, there are already little accents to help break up all that blank wall monotony, (i.e. a fireplace in one corner of the room with a large mirror above it), but mostly it’s just this glaring blank canvas that we need to figure out how to fill.

Because I’ve never had this “problem” of excess space, I had to do some digging, and here’s what I keep coming across when it comes to high ceilings:

  • Art, especially when stacked, can help to make a room feel warm. It also draws the eye up, enhancing all of that ceiling space, rather than having it feel like it’s missing something. I’m definitely interested in a wall dedicated to art, and I love the idea of not having the same frames or shapes.

Mustard Living Room

  • Similarly, an accent wall can function as it’s own little piece of built-in art. A bright color adds a pop to the room, and does the heavy lifting of adding personality. Even in my current apartment with the small ceilings, I have an accent wall. It’s a cerulean blue, and I’m terrified of having to try and paint over it when we move out. Pray for me.

Accent Wall

  • A statement piece, like, say, a faux mounted head, can be a cool way to break up a doorframe. I feel weird saying that a mounted head can add something to the room, but I’m kind of all about it. Expect to see some faux heads in my living room, y’all.

Deer Head

  • To create balance in a room with high ceilings, a statement light fixture can do the trick. I’m really loving the way it pulls this bedroom together, but I do wonder what it would look like in a living room, or dining room area… (READ: Tell me what you think!)

High Ceiling Decorating

  • If you’re going to put up drapes, to make any room look taller, you want to hang the actual rod as close to the ceiling as you can, and have the drapes fall down to the floor completely. Much like vertical stripes, it makes everything look long and lean.

b0c108e64fcc90cd4d82621880647d9eI’m still on the hunt for more tips for high ceiling rooms, so if you’ve got any, do share!