Monday, December 30, 2013

Meet Murphy

On Dec. 26, we brought a new little love into our lives - an 8-week old French Bulldog puppy named Murphy.

Murphy is the runt of her litter, and so even at 8 weeks, she's still under 2 lbs. She's on a constant schedule of eating and sleeping, playing and potty training, but she still finds time to gnaw on fingers, shoelaces and the bright green Mr. Hedgehog.

You can follow her adventures on Instagram (@murphrus), and here on Hey There, Friday when she pops up for a Murphy Monday!

Cheers to a very happy 2014!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Survival Guide

Christmas is a little bit of a production in our house. The weekend after Thanksgiving, the Christmas albums start on a specific rotation, the tree comes down from the attic, the boxes of ornaments are strewn across the living room, and it's officially the holidays.

For those of us who are bouncing around from home to home, working hectic schedules and trying to keep our heads screwed on straight, the holidays can seem less like a joy and more of a chore. Below are some of our tips to keep all of your days merry and bright.

1. Handwritten "thank-you" notes.
Whether you're a guest in someone's home for the holidays, or you're communicating appreciation for a thoughtful gift, a handwritten thank-you note goes a long way.

2. Keep the cocoa flowing.

I can't imagine a better holiday beverage than hot chocolate, loaded with a million marshmallows. Spike it, if that's your thing, but keep the chocolate hot and on-hand for Christmas light viewings, unwrapping gifts and late-night card games with the family.

Pinterest is flooded with recipes and ideas for hot chocolate, like these!

Nutella Hot Chocolate
Low-Carb, GF Mexican Hot Chocolate
3. Have a game plan, literally. 

When boredom kicks in and you have a house full of people, what's your go-to activity? Decorate ornaments together, play a massive game of cards or challenge your dad to a Scrabble duel, hang stockings or go sing carols to neighbors, but have something planned that all ages can participate in.

4. Know thy family/friends.

Neither side of my family can survive long without caffeine. My best friend hates goat cheese, my niece only eats eggs, my sister loves cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and my husband needs the electric blanket wrapped around his feet all day long. You don't have to cater to every single whim of your family/friends this holiday season, but if you categorize the Christmas wishes that make everyone feel at home and tackle the ones that apply to the most people, you have a better chance of sliding right into the New Year with smiles all around. Maybe Aunt Erna's must-have fruitcake doesn't make the list, but if you organize time for her to bake sugar cookies with the grand kids, she'll be too occupied to worry about whether or not her dessert is on the table. What's that saying? "The needs of the many..."

5. Get a playlist going.

But lastly, kick back and have fun. And tell me - what are your tips for a wonderful holiday season?

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a blessed, beautiful New Year to you all!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Stormed In - Part 2

When I said to the Husband that we'd be stuck inside for a few days, I didn't really believe my own words. But on the third day of this ice storm, the temperature is still below freezing and there are inches of ice flattened onto our driveway. Tree branches are cracked and broken all over the place and I'm burning through episodes of The West Wing like my life depends on it. 

On our one venture outdoors, I couldn't get enough of how every leaf on every tree has been completely crystallized by the ice. The trees that are still standing are coated from leaf tip to branch base, decked in the remnants of freezing rain. 

The leaves in this photo were blown backwards and into the tree, whipped around like an icy cocoon, fallen and resting on the ground from the weight of everything. There's a poignant story in there somewhere. 

After a day of eating nothing but breakfast, I figured I should do something different for lunch on Saturday that didn't involve eggs (if only to give us something to eat on Sunday morning). I told you that I ate my Eggs Benedict recipe twice, and this grilled cheese phenomenon is also not a one-time occurrence. 

Last week I read something beautiful about a Lasagna Grilled Cheese that hung out in my head, begging for me to give it a try. The trouble is that grilled cheese sandwiches don't really translate to office microwaves, making this joy something that would have to wait until I was stuck at home with no other plans... oh, wait.

I was excited, I was pumped. I was ready to raid my pantry and Make. It. Happen! Except that I didn't have mozzarella. Or canned tomatoes. Or really any part of this sandwich. So, I played my favorite game... I don't have any of these ingredients, so how to I accomplish the same deliciousness without any of the items?

And I had a revelation. I also had goat cheese, turkey, spinach, tomatoes and delicious sourdough bread. 

You'll need:
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1 Tbs olive oil 

- Deli turkey
- Tomato
- Goat cheese
- Spinach
- Sourdough bread or a bread of your choice

Start by greasing a pan with olive oil and butter, setting the heat on low-medium. Spread chunks of goat cheese (a lot of it, if you're a cheese-o-holic like me) onto one piece of bread, then layer spinach on top of the cheese and put the turkey on top. Put tomato slices on top of the whole pile, and sandwich the pieces together. Put the sandwich into the heated pan, and cook until golden brown on each side. Slice open and enjoy the mess out of it, because this thing is delicious. 

Ice storm optional.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stormed In

It's Day 2 of being completely ice-stormed in, and I've got a lot to be thankful for. We have friends and family experiencing power outages from ice and downed trees all over the metroplex, running off of generators and staying in hotels, crashing on couches and braving the horrible road conditions to travel to the store for supplies.

On Thursday, before the storm hit, I took the time to go by the store and pick up a few things. We live in an apartment, so a generator wasn't going to be much help, but aside from batteries, milk and bread, what necessities were going to get us through the next four days?

I stopped at the store and stocked up on my version of the essentials: breakfast stuffs.

I couldn't help it; I was powerless. I spent too much time on The Kitchn's website and had an unnaturally strong craving for Eggs Benedict after going on a poached egg pinning spree. And I have been cooking up a storm.

By combining two of The Kitchn's Eggs Benedict/Eggs Florentine recipes, I created the holy grail of at-home Eggs Benedict. It's been two days and I've had it twice, in addition to a killer grilled cheese that you'll get the details on tomorrow.

What kind of person would I be if I didn't share these luxuries with you? A horrible one, and I don't want that on my conscience.

I was lured into the promise of breakfast foods with this idea for Eggs Florentine in Hash Brown Nests from The Kitchn. I liked everything about it, except that I couldn't find any pancetta or prosciutto at the store (go figure) and I love bacon so, so much and I wasn't enthralled by the idea of wasting two of my precious eggs on a batch of traditional hollandaise. Plus, I wanted to subtract the calorie content of the sauce so I didn't feel so guilty about eating eight of these.

Just kidding. I've had three. One on Friday morning, and two for dinner Friday night.

In my search of the perfect hollandaise sauce (since I've never made it before), I came across this lighter Eggs Benedict idea, also from The Kitchn.

And helloooo breakfast. Of course, I had to play a quick game of, I don't have this exact ingredient, so let's see what kind of matches it from the items in my fridge, but no harm, no foul.

Here's my combined take:

I used frozen hash browns from Trader Joe's that I had thawed slightly and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese before cramming them into lightly greased muffin tins. I may have photographed one of these babies, but make no mistake... I had two. 

I poached an egg per the instructions I found (again) on The Kitchn, cooked up some bacon (you can microwave four pieces on high for 3 minutes and 30 seconds like I did, if you're especially impatient), put some spinach on top of the hash brown nest, and made the following tangy hollandaise as the perfect creamy topping. I didn't really measure any of this, to be honest. It truly depends on your personal tastes if you need to add more or less of any particular ingredient.

Hey There, Friday's Tangy Mock Hollandaise Sauce (adapted from The Kitchn's Lighter Eggs Benedict with Mock Hollandaise Sauce Recipe):
- A generous squirt of French's Spicy Brown Mustard
- Juice from 1/4 of a Meyer lemon
- Three large spoonfuls of mayo (light or regular, your call)
- Happy sprinkling of red pepper flakes
Mix together well with a fork and adjust to your liking. 

Happy Breakfasting!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Favorites: Holiday Edition

It wouldn't be winter in Dallas without a full-fledged ice storm and city-wide meltdown (the residents, not the ice), so I feel that with this morning's events, we can officially declare the holiday season in full effect.

On Wednesday, I sat outside in short sleeves and jeans, and last night I listened to sleet pelting against my window. I've been a part of Texas' weather mood swings my entire life, but it never ceases to amaze me how bizarre it feels to go from one extreme to another. 

With the frigid temperatures and all of the ice glistening everywhere, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I'm all kinds of in the holiday spirit.

This week's Friday Favorites include some holiday decorating ideas to get your home celebration-ready. Even though we're in an apartment and can't go all-out decorating because we're moving soon, I'm stockpiling ides for when we've got our own home.

For small-scale situations like we're in right now, I try to incorporate little bits of Christmas around the apartment, like our miniature tree, small holiday decorations on end tables and by changing up the centerpiece on our dining room table (the place where everyone seems to congregate).

Last year I stocked up on these antique-looking glass and mercury glass ornaments from Restoration Hardware (similar), and set them out in this rock-cut crystal Tiffany & Co. bowl  This, set a midst gold candles in crystal holders, gives off such a beautiful look on a decorated table, and could be set out just about anywhere for a little festivity.

Another centerpiece idea that I love? This one, found via Pinterest, has such a crisp, rustic look about it.

Another small-space solution? Here's a non-tree tree for a tree-restricted space. 

Table decorations, a mantle and a tree? You've got it all right here. I just can't get enough of the candles and the fresh garland. It looks like it just snowed in their living room:

Decorating a corner or a whole room? This gorgeous Christmas decor from Mandi at Vintage Revivals is all DIY-ed, and completely irresistible. 

I just love the holidays. What's your favorite way to decorate for Christmas? Do you use the same decorations, or do you revamp your holidays every year?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Shopping My Closet: Inclement Weather

Today, it's 75 degrees and sunny as all get-out, and I relished the chance to eat lunch outdoors. On Thursday, it'll be dipping into freezing temperatures and pouring rain. In the spirit of bracing myself for Texas' bipolar weather patterns, I'm planning ahead, all the way to Thursday.

The perfect way to combat wretched weather is with cozy, comfortable clothes that can make the stretch from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. without loss of enthusiasm. Come this rainy Thursday, I'll be wearing a warm flannel button-down, a waterproof trench coat, my favorite brown boots, a new pair of warm, textured pants from Hollister and a wide-brimmed fedora to keep my hair dry. That may be a prescription for hat hair all day, but hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

Rainy Friday Night