Tropical Chocolate Bon Bons

Monday, March 31, 2014

I am so excited to be linking up today (albeit a few days late) with Cooks in the Kitchen!  Samantha and Cristina have put together this wonderful project and I had such a blast finding a recipe to share with all of you using this month's featured ingredient: semi-sweet chocolate!

I have an aunt that lives in Hawaii and whenever she visits she always brings us a box of Hawaiian Host Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts.  They are, hands down, my favorite candy so when trying to figure out what to make with this semi-sweet chocolate I knew I wanted to incorporate some macadamia nuts in there.

While searching for some semi-healthy dessert options I came across this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo.  I made a few minor alterations and the result is the most heavenly tropical bon-bon substitute I've ever tasted.  Plus it's even kinda-sorta healthy so I don't feel the least bit bad about stuffing my face full of them.

Making the banana "ice cream" is super simple but to be honest it's a bit time intensive for me.  I'm including the original method here but in my opinion these are just as delicious of you simply use banana slices instead of frozen puree.


Tropical Chocolate Bon Bons
Makes approx. 15bon bons
Adapted from Nomnom Paleo

  • 2 medium ripe bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate baking bar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 Cup unsalted macadamia nuts, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp shredded coconut (optional)
  1. Blend frozen banana chunks in a blender until the become a smooth puree.  Scrape into a bowl and freeze for one hour.
  2. Melt the baking chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.  Once chocolate is completely melted stir in coconut oil.
  3. Using a small cookie scoop or melon baller, scoop out the frozen banana puree and use your fingers to form it into a small ball, if necessary.  Dip in the chocolate/ coconut oil mixture and set on a sheet of parchment paper.  Immediately sprinkle with macadamia nuts and shredded coconut.  Allow to freeze for 30 more minutes before eating.

A Quick Note On Sponsorships...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I've recently made a couple changes to my sponsorship page; most notably to the swap option.  Beginning April 1st I will be adding a monthly feature to introduce the awesome bloggers who will be hanging out on my sidebar.  This has been one of my favorite ways to discover new blogs and I'm excited to share some of my new favorites with you! If you're interested in being a part of April's roundup check out the sponsorship options here.

DIY Brass Jewelry Holder

Monday, March 24, 2014

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  I spent mine celebrating birthdays, sipping wine, and painting... but more on that later.  Today I wanted to share a quick DIY with you that I did for Baller Hardware's design blog.  This cute little wood & brass jewelry holder is so easy to make and has added so much character to our bedroom.  Enjoy!  (And please excuse how creepy my hand look in these photos...)

 Today we have a super simple DIY project for a chic and modern jewelry holder.  I'm a sucker for dark wood & brass so for me this is the best of both worlds.  It can be hung as a single piece to display your favorite baubles or you can make multiple and scatter them to show off all your jewelry in one place.  Here's what you'll need:

1. 12' brass dowel
2. Cheap paintbrush
3. 1" x 1" flush mounts
4. 2" x 2" x 3" block
5. Medium grit sandpaper
6. Gorilla super glue
7. Wood stain (the color we used is Minwax's red mahogany 225)
8. Lint free rag

Begin by lightly sanding your block to remove any rough edges.  Wipe clean with a lint free cloth.

Stain the block with 3-4 coats of stain (depending on your desired color) allowing the block to dry for 10 minutes between coats.

Attach the brass dowel with the gorilla glue.  Allow to dry for 20 minutes.

Attach one half of the flush mount to the back of the block using a screwdriver and level, if needed.

Attach the other half of the flush mount to the wall like this:

Hang your jewelry holder by interlocking the brackets with those on the wall.  Style and enjoy!

The Worst Marriage Advice We Received

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When we got engaged we immediately became recipients of the advice and opinions of just about everyone we knew (and even some people who we didn't know.)  Much of it was useful and well-meaning, some of it was less than so (How, exactly, am I supposed to respond when someone says "You're too young to be getting married?")  However there was one piece of advice that really stuck with me; mostly because we heard it over and over and over.

"Don't go to bed angry."

And honestly?  This might have been the worst piece of advice we got.  I get the sentiment behind it; really, I do.  It means don't hold grudges, don't pretend like nothing is wrong when you are upset, yada yada.  But I've found that if we are fighting late at night and we make a decision to just sleep on it 9 times out of 10 we will wake up and not even remember what we were fighting about.

Because here's the thing about being married; in addition to gaining a lifelong partner and a lifelong friend, you also gain a lifelong scapegoat.  When I am feeling anxious or upset or angry or sad my first thought isn't "Gee, what could be going on with me internally that's making me feel like this? Am I hungry? Sleepy? Perhaps I should spend some time in prayer or meditation to calm myself down."

No no no.


And don't get me wrong; sometimes it is.  I'm not here to convince you I'm married to a perfect person and I'm pretty sure you know by now that Tyler isn't married to one either.  And when the conflict is, in fact, interpersonal it definitely needs to be worked through.  But late at night when we are tired and weighed down by all of the other stresses of the day is absolutely the worst time for us to do that.  So we go to bed angry.  Like I said, 9 times out of 10 we wake up and don't even care about the issue that eight hours ago seemed like the end of the world.  And for the times when the issue still needs to be addressed we find that we are much more clear-headed and prone to empathy when we are fresh from a good night's sleep.

Now, I know this doesn't work for everyone.  Some people can't sleep when they are upset so they stay up all night stewing and start off the next day even madder than before.  I definitely don't advise that.  But I think it's important to recognize the external factors that set us off (hunger, sleepiness, lack of exercise, etc) and to address those things before we get into the business of hashing out all of our marital issues.  It can make for a much shorter and, dare I say it- more pleasant argument.

What's the worst relationship advice you've ever received? I know you all have some good stories out there...

5 Things That Make Californians Weird

Monday, March 17, 2014

When you live in the same region for most of your life you come to accept certain things as the norm.  It can be easy to forget that the country we live in is huge and that each part has unique quirks and habits.  It wasn't until I moved to Chicago that I realized many of the things I thought were standard everywhere were in fact "California things."  So in honor of this morning's 4.4 quake (yawn) I thought I'd share a few of the things that make Californians a little weird...

1. We go to school outside

In eighth grade I really wanted to be sent to a local Catholic private high school.  Why? Not because it would have provided me with a better education (and definitely not because it was girls-only) but because it was an "indoor school" and the only time I had seen indoor schools was on TV.  In California many of the schools are what we call "outdoor schools"- that is, the classrooms are not connected and the hallways are all outdoors.  My high school didn't even have an indoor cafeteria which meant that on rainy days much of the school crammed inside the library to eat lunch.  Though the upside was that we often got to have class on the lawn... which made it much easier to sneak away.

2. We will take a longer route to avoid traffic

Perhaps this is just a So Cal thing, but it seems that every good Californian knows at least 3 different ways to get somewhere.  Traffic on the ten? that's okay, just take topanga canyon to the 101, then when that gets backed up just exit and take Ventura the rest of the way. Doesn't matter if it tacks on an extra 15 minutes to your drive; it's better to spend 45 minutes moving than 30 minutes sitting in traffic.

3. Avocados are a food group, not a condiment.

One time in Chicago I brought two avocados + some packets of salt and pepper for my lunch.  I never lived it down.

4. We talk to strangers

 Californians (and Angelinos in particular) have a stereotype of being rude and, while that very well may be true when we are in our cars, most of the time we really want to talk to you.  Whether we are standing in line for coffee or walking our dogs you will find that people here are apt to strike up a conversation with just about anyone.  The first time I encountered the "Seattle Freeze" I was shocked! Perhaps we Californians were just never taught not to talk to strangers.

5. We are always "20 minutes away." 

And it's always a lie.

What are some things that make your region a little weird?

Image sources: 1/2/3/4

Currently On Repeat

Friday, March 14, 2014

Last night as I was driving home from ballet this song came on KCRW and I was so moved by it that I had to pull over so I could give it my full attention.  Apparently it is an acoustic cover of a techno song but you would never know it.  It's what I would call a "rainy driving song;" one that you put on repeat when it's a rainy night and perhaps you're driving through a winding canyon road and you belt it out as loud as you can and in that moment life just feels so, so vivid.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Four Years

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Four years ago today Ty and I went on our first date and to commemorate this day I'd like to tell the story of how it all started.  It's not a particularly funny or serendipitous story but it's ours and ergo it's my favorite :)

On the first day of Spring semester of my Junior year I was hobbling around on crutches after falling down a set of stairs in a onesie (that's a story for another time.)  I had registered for my classes late and therefore was waitlisted for an upper-division Religion class that I HAD to take for my major.  I was planning on getting to class early to plead with the professor but, thanks to the crutches, I fumbled in ten minutes late.  The class was seated in a giant circle and it appeared that every seat was occupied; wait, no, all but one.  The professor gestured to a seat on the opposite side of the room and I slowly made my way over and sat down, completely red-faced and mortified (crutches and a tiny, quiet classroom aren't the best mix.)

I scanned the room looking for allies as one does on the first day of class and spotted a few of my fellow Religion majors sprinkled throughout the room.  When my eyes landed on the seat next to me, though, I became incensed.  I was sitting next to Tyler Jaynes, the star volleyball player, who I was just certain was the biggest d-bag in the whole world.  I didn't know him, of course, but as the #3 ranked middle blocker in the nation how could he be anything other than an egotistical maniac?  Furthermore, he certainly wasn't a Religion major and he was taking the spot of one who reeeeally needed to get into this class.  I decided immediately not to talk to him, but was totally taken aback when he started happily chattering on to me about the time that he was on crutches and how he was sorry I had to walk around campus like that.  I was perplexed; this is not how world-class athletes were supposed to talk to mere plebeians like myself.  But class was over and I had bigger problems to figure out.

As the weeks went on I became more and more impressed with Tyler.  He would make silly comments in class that only the two of us seemed to find funny.  His faith was far deeper than I'd imagined.  He was smart in a way that I hadn't expected.  In February we both signed up to be a part of a mini-musical competition that Pepperdine puts on every year so we spent every night from 10-12 in rehearsal together.  I've been a performer most of my life so I knew I was starting to have a crush on him when I was willingly placing myself in the back row where he and the rest of the volleyball players were.  He knew he was starting to like me when he would willingly stay up til 1 AM talking with me, despite having volleyball practice at 5:30 AM.

One night while we were catching up on an episode of LOST (which is one of the most romantic shows ever, in my opinion) he finally made the move and held my hand.  He was shaking.  After the episode he asked if he could take me out that Friday for dinner and a movie.  I happily agreed.

The next night Ty was late to dance rehearsal, which was so unlike him.  I kept worriedly glancing at the door and when he came in an hour late I could tell he was distraught.  After practice, as he was driving me back to my dorm, he told me that he'd just found out that a dear friend of his had passed away unexpectedly.  We sat in his car for about an hour as he cried and I held him.  I was blown away but his vulnerability, and surprised at how much my own heart hurt for his loss.

The next day was supposed to be our dinner-and-a-movie date but, due to the circumstances, we opted for a post-rehearsal Denny's date instead.  We sat in the dingily-lit diner and talked; mostly about his friend and the sweet memories Ty had of them growing up together.  We sat there in our sweaty workout clothes and picked at our pancakes for a couple of hours.  It was simple, it was unpolished and, despite what I'd always thought first dates were supposed to be like, it was perfect.

So tonight we will go to Denny's just like we've done every year on March 12th.  It's not the fanciest way to celebrate an anniversary, but it may very well be my favorite tradition that we have.

Life Lately

Monday, March 10, 2014

Looking over my past few blog posts I see that it's been awhile since I've actually shared anything really personal, and for that I apologize.  I want for this to be a space that fosters openness and vulnerability, and it can't very well be that if I'm not open and vulnerable, now can it?

The past few weeks have been a bit of a daze, mostly because I've had this nagging sleepiness that has lingered throughout my day.  For the first week it was straight-up exhaustion; I was having to leave work to go home and nap for hours.  It has gotten less severe, but I still walk through my day in this semi-groggy haze that I just can't seem to shake.  I'm going to the doctor's office today and, to be honest, I'm completely terrified.  The last time I went to a doctor for something that was bothering me was about a year and a half ago, and I was told I might have cancer.  I didn't, (praise God!!) but those words left me scarred.  My mind automatically jumps to the worst case scenario in every situation.  I've been avoiding the doctor for a couple of weeks now but I can't put it off any longer.  The fear will not win out.  My therapist once told me that fear is mostly a memory; most of the time the things we fear aren't actual threats, but rather things we've been conditioned to be afraid of.  Spiders, heights, and this morning, doctors.  The good news is that the best way to rid ourselves of those fears is to face them head on! So onward we go...

On a brighter side, March is looking to be such a lovely month.  I am SO happy that daylight savings time has arrived.  Much as I'd like to pretend I'm a rain-loving Fall type of girl, my heart is happiest when I'm barefoot and in cutoffs and eating on the porch and it stays light late into the evening.  Summer girl, right here. The month is brimming with birthdays and coffee dates (including my first-ever blogger date!) and celebrations.  There is a whole heckuva lot to look forward to.  There is a whole heckuva lot to be thankful for.

Friday Favorites

Friday, March 7, 2014

Heavens to Betsy, am I ever glad it's Friday.  Our week started out with a really stressful house-sitting situation (who knew house-sitting could be stressful?) and I feel like I've been off my game ever since.  Real talk: I think we had takeout or takeout leftovers or mooched off someone else's takeout pretty much every night this week.  I know for certain that I didn't set foot in the kitchen, and if my memory serves me correctly I think one night my dinner consisted of a pack of Mentos.  My checkbook and waistline are none too happy but sometimes that's just how it goes, right?  I'm hoping that a restful weekend will help me get back into a healthier and more normal routine next week.

Anyway, since I haven't had anything really decent to contribute to the internet in quite some time, let me lead you to some people and places that have:

  • I've been thinking about this post from Jenny all week.  How can we be intentional about building friendships with people who are different from us?  Tough question.
  • Speaking of cooking, I just discovered Jacob Bromwell and I'm obsessed.  Give me something that makes me feel like The Pioneer Woman and I'm totally sold.
  • According to this quiz I am a fat indoor cat, so no surprises there.
  • A giveaway! That I totally forgot I was cohosting... 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Next week it's back to regularly scheduled programming.  Pinkie promise.

Average is Beautiful

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Have you guys met Lammily?

Lammily is a healthy, beautiful doll with the proportions of an average 19-year old girl.  She has bendable elbows and knees so that she can run and play sports and has joints in her ankles so that she can wear flats as well as high heels.  She wears minimal makeup, and, in a culture where young girls are inundated with playthings that look like this and this, she is a breath of fresh air.

Lammily is the genius creation of Nikolay Lamm who won over the hearts of healthy-body-image advocates everywhere last year when he showed what Barbie would look like as an average girl.  After getting tons of questions asking where one could buy a doll that looked like a real human being and coming up short he decided to create one himself. 

I wasn't really into Barbies as a kid.  (My parents stopped buying them for me when they discovered my main use for them was pulling off their limbs and using them to build rubber band guns).  I'm thankful, too, because the statistics are astounding. Four out of five 10-year-olds say that they're afraid of being fat. 42% of girls in first through third grade wish they were thinner. And half of girls aged 9 or 10 claim that they feel better about themselves when they're dieting. (source)  While this is certainly due to a variety of cultural and environmental factors, studies also show that after playing with a thin doll young girls ate significantly less at their next meal than girls who played with a normal sized doll.

I don't have kids yet, but when I do I know I will be reluctant to allow them to play with a doll that has been used as a sex-object for men.  I want my kids to know that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes; (including thin, "average," and above-average.)  I want them to value health above aesthetic.  I want them to avoid the body image disorders that plagued me for years.  Heck, I want these things for me and for you as well! I know our culture has a long, long way to go when it comes to valuing women (and men) of all shapes and sizesHowever I'm thankful for the steps that people like Lamm are taking, and I'm hopeful that by the time I do have school-aged kids dolls like Lammily will be the ones filling the shelves.

Interested in getting a Lammily for yourself? Head over to Nikolay's crowd-funding page to get in on the first line of production.  Hurry- spots are going fast!

All images courtesy of Time