Life's a Peach- Pick it!

Hello! I hope everyone has had a great start to the week.  On Sunday, we decided to hop in the car and take a ride to Lyman Orchards to go peach picking.  I had never picked peaches before.  At home, in Upstate New York, I've done my fair share of picking apples and strawberries but never peaches.  Maybe it's a Connecticut thing, or maybe it's just a Connecticut thing for me.  Either way I'm happy we went.

It is a great time of year to go picking since so many yummy things are in season.  At Lyman Orchards, there was a huge U-Pick selection.  All types of peaches, pears, apples,  and pumpkins.  At first we decided to get a little bit of everything but we ended up just going peach crazy.  After taste testing about 4 different peaches (some white, some yellow, soft and hard) we decided on Ernie's Choice. We figured Ernie knows best.

The best part about this adventure is all of the peach recipes we've tried.  So far the winner has got to be this one.  The worst part about this adventure is also all of the peach recipes we've tried.  Even when I try to restrain myself, there is an evil little voice in my head saying "Peaches are only in season for so long. You better take advantage of this delicious dessert that you picked." I lose every time.  How can you say no to a hot peach crostata cooling on the counter? That's right... you can't. It's definitely worth the calories and I remind myself how far we walked when we were scoping out all of the peach trees.

Just look out for these guys...

I switched to camera duty after seeing that little guy.

I definitely have to take a sec to encourage my Connecticut friends to check this place out! Have any great peach recipes to share? Please pass them on!

Favorite Fall Accessory: Scarves

Hi there.  Today is the first day back to school for many. It makes me a little sad, I would love to do college all over again. There is something about this time of year. If you're a student it means new clothes, a new dorm or apartment, maybe new roomies. Since I am now a working woman, this is just the end of summer which doesn't mean much in my work world. When I was out doing some shopping last weekend I got a little caught up in the excitement of  all of the returning students to my area and bought myself a "back to work" present.  

Scarves are my favorite all year round accessory. I love that I don't have to give them up when the seasons change. Since they are so versatile I have collected a ton. I always look for a super soft feel and tend to gravitate towards patterns and colors that are a little different from my everyday wardrobe. It's a great way to incorporate something new into your style routine.  They are perfect when transitioning from day to evening. Sometimes I keep one stashed in my bag for when it cools down or when I want to quickly change my look. 

Here is a round up of some beautiful scarves I would love to add to my collection:

From left to right:
1 /
2 /
3 /
4 /
5 /
6 /

Do you have an accessory that stays with you all year?
Thanks for stopping by!

Weekday Prep: Homemade Cranberry Walnut Protein Bars

Good morning! How was everyone's weekend? Even though I wish Friday and Saturday could go on forever, I absolutely love Sunday mornings.  It's so quiet and peaceful.

Since my weeks can get pretty chaotic, I like to use Sunday morning as a time to do some prep for the week ahead.  Monday morning is so much easier to take on when you have done a little planning- it doesn't take much! One thing that makes life a little easier come 6am Monday is a healthy snack I can grab on my way out the door.  I make sure to have breakfast every morning at home but by 9am, I am usually starving at my desk. Really- I would not be surprised if people around me heard my stomach growling. There is a little bit of a running joke at work because it is to nobody's  surprise when I am eating my entire lunch as they are getting into the office. I can't help it! I'm hungry!

Lately, I have been stocking up on store bought protein bars to hold me over until lunch but most are nothing but a glorified candy bar.  I try to stay away from processed food as much as possible and am crazy about reading nutrition labels. I have a hard time enjoying something if I can't pronounce the ingredients. The good thing is, there is always a way to make something even better at home and you know exactly what went into it.

Today as part of my weekday prep, I am going to be making homemade protein bars.  A clean-eating coworker passed on this recipe and I have been psyched to try it out.  This recipe serves as a great base and can be easily customized to what you like.  Feel free to add dried fruit (watch out for added sugar), nuts, coconut, apples, etc.  I have heard banana chips are great in this... maybe I'll try banana chip with drizzled chocolate for next time.

Homemade Cranberry Walnut Protein Bars:

3 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. natural peanut butter (I use Teddie's and LOVE it)
1 c. unsweetened almond milk
4 scoops any flavor protein powder (I am using vanilla)
A couple handfuls of dried cranberries and chopped walnuts
2 tbls ground flax seed
Dash of cinnamon (optional but recommended)
Stevia to sprinkle over the top of the bars (optional- I topped mine with a little more cinnamon instead)

Mix the above ingredients and any extras to form a sticky batter. You'll have to work at this a little bit.  It may take a bit of arm strength to get the peanut butter to evenly distribute and the ingredients to really blend.  Use a spoon or spatula to spread over a 8x8 greased pan. Refrigerate the batter overnight.  Cut the bars and enjoy! I'll be cutting all of mine tomorrow and wrapping them in parchment paper so they are easy to grab on my way out. Since these bars are high in protein they would be a great pre-workout snack. Making the bars only took about 15 minutes (including clean up). I told you it didn't take much to do a little prepping.

How did yours come out? I'd love to hear what else you guys decided to add to the batter. I hope this recipe will make your Monday morning a little smoother. Now take on Monday like a champ!

The Happiest of Hours

Happy Friday! Happy hour! This week has given TGIF a whole new meaning.  Tonight I am headed to a friend's for a late summer cookout.  I love the end of summer.  The days are still beautiful and hot but it feels good when things cool down at night.  In these next couple weeks I am going to try to squeeze every last drop out of summer with cookouts, fun drinks, fresh veggies and the last of long hours of day light.  Tonight Marissa has a great menu planned but what I am looking forward to most is the creative cocktail she has thought up.  She is a self proclaimed mixologist and she does not disappoint! Here are some fun summer cocktails to enjoy this weekend while soaking up the sun.

Strawberry Basil Smash
Blackberry Sage Cooler
Floridita Daquiri
The Collinzano

The Real Breakfast of Champions

Good morning! I am up an hour earlier than normal so I figured I would do a quick post on breakfast.  I'm sure you have heard it a million times but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  One thing I try to incorporate into my breakfast everyday is ground flax seed.

Flax seed is exactly what is sounds like, a ground up seed. The seeds are packed with great things to start your day off with including: fiber, omega- 3 fatty acids, vitamin b,  and antioxidants.  The best part about this magic seed... you don't need a lot to make a difference.  Since you only need a few teaspoons, it is easy to incorporate into breakfast or any meal.  I took a tip from my mom who fills an empty spice shaker with the ground flax seed so she can sprinkle it on anything.  Ground flax seed doesn't have too much flavor so don't worry about it adding a funky taste to your food and it is easily found in most supermarkets.

Some places I try to sneak in some extra flax seed are: oatmeal, cereal, on top of salads, in muffins, homemade granola or protein bars.

Here are a few recipes I have collected that will add a little flax to your day.

Blueberry Smoothie

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins *Bonus- These are gluten free.
Almond Flax Seed Granola

Have a great day! Thanks for stopping by.

Closet Sharing

One of the biggest adjustments we have had to make since moving is sharing a single closet.  Our last apartment had 2 large closets and tons of extra storage space which allowed us to collect a ton of junk clothes, jackets, etc.  Being forced to share a closet for the last month or so has really made us get creative.  Of course my original solution was everything of his- MUST GO...kidding (sort of).  My goal for this rainy Sunday is to weed out my closet (again).  I admit this is definitely something I need to work on.  I have heard all of the tricks to getting rid of things you don't need anymore.  To me, it's a process that takes a while.  If at the end of the day I have only taken out 5 items, it will be a success (for me and my little sister).

Here are some swoon worthy closets for all of us apartment dwellers to day dream about today.

All image credit

I love closets styled like a boutique.  Shopping through your closet in the morning would make getting dressed so much more fun, the fresh flowers wouldn't hurt either. 

DIY Coffee Table to Tufted Ottoman

A few years ago when I moved into my first apartment, my mom offered to let me take a coffee table she had in storage.  Since it was free, I was all over it.  As my mom and I were chatting about what furniture I had, it came out that the coffee table I was taking was actually the first piece of furniture my parents purchased together.  The coffee table had definitely seen better days but it was a nice addition to our apartment of mix matched furniture. I have had the table for 3 years and after recently moving into a "grown up" apartment, I didn't want to have to look at the dents and scratches of the table top anymore.  We thought about sanding it and refinishing it but after all of the awesome tutorials I have seen on the web (here and here are two of my favorites), we figured why not give the tufted ottoman look a try. I have to apologize now- my pictures of this project might not be the best quality.  They were all taken from my iPhone as we went.  I will definitely remember to document our next project a little better.

 As you can see, it could use some TLC but structurally it was in great shape for being 25 years old. 
Sandpaper ($3 for a multi pack)
RustOleum Spray Paint ($7.49)
Fabric (Joann Fabrics- about $17.99/ yd on sale. We needed a little less than 2 yards)
Button Kit ($9.99 for a kit of 15)
6" needle ($4 for a 2 pack)
2" Foam (about $30-possibly the most expensive component- be sure to use a coupon)
Batting (I purchased this and ended up not using it- will explain below)
Staple gun with staples

There is definitely a technique to spray painting and Ryan seemed to know it so I let him go for it.
To get started, we knew the legs needed some attention. We sanded them down and put on about 3 coats of RustOleum's Painter's Touch Multi- Purpose Spray Paint in Kona Brown.  It worked wonders and I love the color.  It is a dark brown with hints of maroon.  We only sanded and painted the legs since we knew the top would be covered in fabric.

After letting the table completely dry (we left it in the garage for about 3 days), we got to the fun part.  I wanted a diamond pattern for the buttons so we measured out 4 buttons across the top and bottom and 5 in the middle of the table.  Just using a Sharpie I marked where I wanted the buttons and drilled a small hole through the table so I would be able to get the needle through when adding the buttons. Some of the tutorials I read either cut or drilled through their foam, I didn't find this step necessary the needle went through the table and foam fine without any holes.

We placed the foam on top of the table and using a serrated knife, roughly cut it to the size of the table. It was mostly just rounding the edges of the foam since it was pretty close to the same size. Sorry- no pics of these steps but I sure you can imagine what drilling a table/cutting foam looks like.

Most of the tutorials I read attached quilting batting over the foam to smooth it out. The batting I bought wasn't doing much smoothing so I grabbed an old sheet and used that instead.  The batting would have made the table a little more plush but with the table already being much taller than an ottoman I didn't mind leaving it out.  After pulling the sheet tight over the foam we secured it using the staple gun, making sure there were enough staples to keep it in place.

Once the foam and sheet were positioned properly,  we added the fabric and stapled down a few place holders but didn't pull it too tight since it would shift the placement of the buttons.

The button kit made this process pretty easy. 
To secure the upholstered buttons I used some regular buttons I already had. We knotted the upholstery thread through the regular button and used the long needle to fasten the upholstered buttons.  This step required two people.  To get deeper tufts, I pushed down the upholstered button and Ryan fastened them underneath so the button didn't loosen.

The underside of the table after the buttons were secure.

After much debate between ordering fabric online and going to Joann Fabrics, we hopped in the car to Joann's. This didn't make the decision any easier, there were plenty of options to choose from and bonus- all fabrics were 60% off.  I must have walked through the aisles 20 times before I decided on the fabric.  I loved it at the time...brought it home, had a change of heart, liked it again then wasn't sure- you know how it goes.  Price definitely played in a factor in the chose too since this is my first project, I didn't want to spend mega bucks incase it didn't work out.

With the buttons fastened, the only step left was to pull the fabric tight and staple to the button of the table.  Most tutorials give instructions about how to attach the corners so they look nice against the rest of the ottoman.  We were pretty lucky since our table/ ottoman didn't have corners.  It still took quite a few staples to get the fabric tightly secured.

The finished product!
The whole project took about 4 hours (not including drying time for the paint).  It is a great addition to the living room.  For my first stab at a project like this, I am very happy with the results.  It even had Ryan asking- what can we do next?  What do you guys think?  Feel free to leave any questions below!
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