wedding wednesdays : 4.18.12

There is SO MUCH goodness in this wedding…so many fun details and elegant touches!

craft paper menu

post credit : 100 Layer Cake

image credit : bayly & moore

From black and white to loads of color! Love all of the cheerful, rich colors in this fall wedding!

post credit : southern weddings

image credit : katelyn james photography

And speaking of rich, gorgeous colors…this wedding is beautiful! But what struck me most was the stationary. And come to find out the bride owns the company and designed all of the paper products! She did such an amazing job!

post credit : style me pretty

image credit : brown butter photography

Oh my WORD, this wedding! Definitely my favorite of the bunch this week, an unbelievably beautiful Colorado wedding.

post credit : style me pretty

image credit : jenna walker photographers

beka stays creative : window treatments

I have an obsession with fall.

Perhaps you’ve noticed.

But this year in particular, it seems like the leaves are brighter and sticking around for longer than usual. And I’m loving it! Last weekend I went for a walk with my mom and we picked up some particularly pretty ones. I wanted to do something with them. I didn’t know what. And then this happened:

How? The old fashioned way: a needle and thread. Seriously…it was nearby and seemed like the most effective way to string them together…and it worked! I just poked each leaf at a different spot so they’d look less uniform and tied the ends of the thread to the curtain rods.

They look a little less lively now, but they were pretty while they lasted! A quick and easy way to bring the outside in and embrace fall for a little bit longer.

beka stays healthy : hot or cold fall oatmeal jars

(That title makes me laugh. None of those words go together.)

There are people who like to believe that some things never change. But I like to believe that anything can change. Case in point: my passionate feelings toward oatmeal.

Just one short year ago, I hated oatmeal. It literally made me nauseous to think of eating hot mush at breakfast or any other time of day. And then I went on a 3 month road trip around the country. And it was not fully funded by the Travel Channel. So there were times in which eating whatever was cheapest was the best option. Slowly, reluctantly, I choked down my first few bowls of Gas Station Oatmeal: a fine delicacy created by heating a 50 cent package of oatmeal with hot water from the gas station. Desperate times call for desperate oatmeal.

Somehow, I literally don’t know how, this odd beginning forged a deep and meaningful relationship between me and oatmeal. One year later, I eat it nearly every day. But I don’t drive to the local gas station for the 50 cent variety anymore. No siree. Nowadays, I am all about elaborate oatmeal creations. My most recent favorite is this fall breakfast in a jar.


Here’s what you’ll need:

For the oatmeal:

  • ¼ cup Rolled Oats (I Love Scottish Oats!)
  • ½ cup Water
  • ¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk

For the toppings:

  • 1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Butter
  • ½ Tablespoon Walnuts
  • ½ whole Banana
  • ⅛ cup Roasted Apples

To make the oatmeal, combine one quarter cup oats with one half cup water. You can cook it on a stove top over medium heat until thickened, but I am usually rushing to get out the door in the morning standing over a stove for 10 minutes is less preferable than throwing something in the microwave. So I microwave the oats for 4 minutes while I finish getting ready for the day. It’s a win/win.

Once cooked, add in spices and milk. (You can also add in protein powder, which I usually opt for if this jar is accompanying me to the gym in the morning.) Scoop the oatmeal into a medium sized mason jar.

Next, layer your toppings. For this jar: pumpkin butter, walnuts, banana, and roasted apples (don’t tell…but I just used a scoop of apples from recently made apple crisp). Top with a lid and run out the door!

Now, here’s the beauty of this particular recipe. It’s delicious hot, but it’s also delicious cold! Unconventional, but so true. When heated, it takes on the warm and comforting notes of banana bread. I usually stir everything together when I eat it hot. But when I eat it cold I like to keep the layers separate. The flavors are so distinct and refreshing!

I’ve made this for breakfast for three days straight – four, if you count tomorrow. Four hundred, if you count every day for the next year or so. I’ll probably still be eating this for breakfast by the time next Christmas comes around.

And, in a spontaneous burst of wisdom, I realized this morning that if I just make a huge batch of oatmeal on Monday morning and divide it into jars for the rest of the week, life would be so much easier. (Um, duh.) So I boiled a cup of oats with two cups of water. When it was just about done I mixed in 4 tablespoons protein powder, 4 tablespoons almond milk, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and about 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Then I divided it into 4 portions (I figured it would probably behoove me to have one oatmeal-free day this week) and topped it with a bunch of random stuff which I am too lazy to list out right now but will probably regale you with at a later date.

Me and Oatmeal. BFF’s. Who knew?! Just goes to show there’s always room for change. (That right there is a superfluous life lesson tucked into a post about breakfast. Wow. Must be Halloween in the air.)

beka stays healthy : pumpkin pie cups

As you flip through this blog, you may be under the impression that I have an affinity for pumpkin.

You would be correct. Apparently it’s a prerequisite in the blog world to wax poetic about pumpkin this time of year…and apparently I’m in with the in crowd. If something has the word “pumpkin” in the title, there’s a better than 99% chance that I’ll make it/order it/purchase it.

Except for one thing. There’s one pumpkin item I just can’t stomach.

Pumpkin pie.

I know. I shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate Thanksgiving. Exile me from New England. I don’t deserve to live here anymore.

But it’s not without just cause! I had a traumatic childhood pumpkin pie experience!

So when I was all of 6 or 7, I became obsessed with the idea of pumpkin pie. I mean, it looked so good in books and on TV! So I asked my mom if she could make one. And, because she’s amazing, she did. But in the process of making the pie, she sliced her hand open on the can of pumpkin. And was bleeding profusely. And had to be rushed to the hospital by my dad. Who was stopped by the cops on the way there. At which point I started howling in the back seat because I thought they were going to arrest me for involuntary hand slaughter.

Because, as previously mentioned, my mom is amazing, she ended up seeing the pumpkin pie through to completion even after her fight with the can. And when she proudly served the pie with a dollop of whipped cream and I took my much-anticipated first bite…I found out that I didn’t like pumpkin pie after all.

My poor mom.

This led to a good 15 years of pumpkin embargo. I was under the impression that I didn’t like pumpkin, when in reality, I think I was just scarred from the whole unfortunate pie experience (as was my mom…literally).

Slowly but surely, pumpkin started to make a comeback. At first just in seasonal coffees. And then in pumpkin rolls because they just looked so delicious and reminded me of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. And then in muffins. And then in roasted seeds. And then in soup. And then the rest is history.

But still, to this day, I can’t get on board with pumpkin pie. I blame it on the cops.

Last weekend though, I made some progress. I made Pumpkin Pie in cup form. Pumpkin Pie encased by white chocolate. Which isn’t really pumpkin pie at all, but it’s close enough for me.

I think that this recipe for White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Cups from Lauren at Healthy Food for Living is about as close as I’ll get to actually eating pumpkin pie. But I’ll take it as a victory, and a delicious one at that! Be sure to check out the recipe!

beka stays healthy : roasted stuffed delicata squash

Foreword: I started writing this post and had a good 2 – 3 paragraphs done…when I realized it seemed awfully familiar and checked my drafts. Good call. Already written and waiting to be published. Sanity: 1, Beka: 0.

I wasn’t always so in love with fall/winter vegetables.

Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, parsnips, PUMPKIN…these are all recent discoveries in my world. And how bleak life must have been without them! I can’t image how I got through even a single week sans root vegetables and gourds! They now compile my favorite genre of foods. (Excluding desserts. Which probably went without saying.)

I usually get my weekly stash of vegetables from the Brighton Farmer’s Market. Every Sunday, I bolt out of church (which is extra-holy, I know) and speed to the Market so that I can shop for 10-15 minutes and still get home in time for the FOX NFL Pregame Show (it’s my favorite one! I can’t bear to miss it!). It’s an unconventional process, but it works for me.

A few weeks ago I invested 5 minutes of my 15 minute allotment to talking with one of the squash vendors. I was looking for something new to add to my repertoire aside from the usual tried and true varieties. The vendor recommended delicata squash.

The vendor is now one of my favorite people.

The idea for this meal was actually born from a feature in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living. The recipe was for turning a baked sweet potato into a meal by stuffing it. Since I had this squash burning a hole in my pantry, I decided to give it a go with a few different ingredients!

Roasted Stuffed Delicata Squash:

adapted from Martha Stewart Living

  • 1  Delicata Squash
  • 12  Brussels Sprouts
  • ¼  Red Onion
  • 1  Large Chopped Kale Leaf
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Cherries
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 ounce Goat Cheese
  • ½ Tablespoons Raw Pumpkin Seeds

To get started, wash and dry the delicata squash. It’s usually still carrying some old baggage, namely dirt from the field. Once he’s clean and shiny, cut in half (perk: delicatas are easier to chop through than most of the gourd family) and scoop out seeds.

If you like your vegetables steamed, you can just combine the stuffing ingredients and add them to the squash before baking. But if you like things a little crispier, I’d recommend roasting the stuffing on a separate pan. Either way, combine Brussels sprouts, red onion, kale, and cherries. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add the mixture, either divided between the two halves or spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 400ºF for 15-20 minutes. If you’ve been roasting the stuffing separately, add it to the squash now. At this point you also want to add the goat cheese and pumpkin seeds, both sprinkled on top. Continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.

This meal is the ultimate fall comfort food. I was on the fence about the goat cheese, but I’m so glad it made the cut! It really added something special to the mix. But this is totally customizable – you can add or subtract anything you want! Shallots, pecans, wild rice, cranberries, carrots…you name it. Have fun experimenting and finding your favorite flavor combination!

(You can also find this recipe here, at Tasty Kitchen!)

beka stays healthy : pumpkin applesauce muffins

Little known fact: I spent a (very) short span of life as a card-carrying vegan. Mainly, I was interested in the health benefits and the moral and environmental effects. While I still think that the world at large would be a better place if we consumed less meat and dairy, I’m back on the omnivore bandwagon again. This is not to credit/discredit any dietary choice, because I think that there are valid arguments for all sides; but for me, I’ve come to the conclusion that supporting ethical farmers and enjoying a well-balanced diet is the right move. (And, let’s be honest: I really love Greek yogurt. And goat cheese. And egg salad.)

Even though I’m back in the land of milk and honey, I still like to whip out a few beloved vegan recipes because they’re so darn healthy. One of the things I wanted to conquer during my vegan days was baking sans dairy and eggs. I was usually unsuccessful. But when there were victories, they usually came from the pages of Veganomicon, the revered cookbook for all things vegan. These muffins are an adaptation from a similar recipe for applesauce muffins. I made about a million of them in a 6-month period. But this time around, I wanted to add in more fall flavors. Which can only mean one thing: pumpkin!

Here’s the ingredient list:

adapted from Veganomicon

  • ¾ cups Almond Milk
  • ½ teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ cups Unsweetened Applesauce
  • ½ cups Canned Pumpkin
  • 3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • ½ cups Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1-½ cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • ¾ cups Red Wheat Bran
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ cups Raisins
  • 3 Tablespoons Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Start by combining almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit for a minute. Then, add applesauce, pumpkin, canola oil, and packed brown sugar. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl (or—if you avoid extra dishes like the plague as I do—the same bowl), sift together whole wheat pastry flour, red wheat bran (oat bran works too, but I like the color and flavor red wheat bran contribute), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (or if you’re part of the aforementioned lazy club, just stir). Fold in raisins (golden, regular, or get crazy and throw in some dried cranberries!).

Spoon into a muffin tin. Bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes. Then, working as quickly as you can, like your life depends on it, sprinkle raw pumpkin seeds on top of the semi-baked muffins. Adding them 10 minutes in ensures that they don’t sink down into the batter and/or burn. Once you’ve sufficiently pumpkin-seeded the tops of your muffins, pop them back into the oven at 350ºF for another 15-20 minutes.

These are great plain or with butter but they’re out-of-this-world amazing when spread with the pure love that is pumpkin butter. And over the weekend, I went all-out at Williams Sonoma and bought a jar of their Pecan Pumpkin Butter.

Best decision ever. I now have a new best (spread) friend. Sorry, dark chocolate peanut butter.

(You can also find this recipe here, at Tasty Kitchen!)

inspired : 10.17.11

A day late and a dollar short…but better late than never. (How’s that for a fully cliched sentence?)

turning ideas into actions! from pinterest to real life

love these ideas for cheap, easy breakfasts

both of the above are from simple living media…i especially love simple bites!

has anyone ever used rock my run? i can’t wait to try it!

fall wishes from nat the fat rat

um, yes: mad hectic oatmeal

butternut squash anything makes me so happy

and…a new feature!…pin of the week:

beka stays creative : fall pins

Seriously…what did I do with my life before Pinterest? I simply can’t recall.

In honor of my favorite season, here’s what’s living on my fall Pinterest board these days…

beka stays authentic : fall bucket list

I’m pretty much obsessed with fall. This is true most years but now more than ever…I think I’m making up for lost time since last fall I was off gallivanting in warmer climates. I felt like I missed out on the whole season! So this year, we’re doing it up right. Here’s what I’d like to do this fall:

make caramel apples

make apple toffee blondies

make pumpkin pie cups

make butternut squash curry

try one new fall recipe from each of my subscriptions (a pie is a must! as are muffins!)

go to an orchard and get apples, cider and donuts

decorate the apartment with pumpkins galore

spend Sundays watching back to back to back football

go for walks around the neighborhood looking at houses, with leaves crunching underfoot

eat candy corn

drink lots of hot apple cider and cinnamon apple spice tea

stock up on fall coffee flavors from Leaf & Bean

(finally) get a fall coat/jacket (and a new scarf!)

take a cooking class (I’m on the waiting list for this one, but this one looks great too!)

and…last but certainly not least…

burn the hundreds of fall candles I’ve been stockpiling!