halfway flashback : february

Baking, friends, and food photography. Does it get any better? Love this post!

I think this post is going to be my valentine this year. I love it that much.

My love for whoopie pies knows no bounds. It’s almost as intense as my love for shoo fly pie. But just almost.

Also, why is Pennsylvania fond of naming non-pie desserts as pie? Whoopie pies? Basically hand-held cake. Shoo fly pie? Basically cake with frosting on the bottom. Dear PA, perhaps we need to have a cake vs. pie tutorial. I’ll be happy to provide examples. And help sample.

But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is that Valentine’s baking + Saturday morning + a wonderful friend  =

A pretty perfect day.

These bright red beauties came from a recipe recently featured on Annie’s Eats. As always, she did not disappoint.

Also not disappointing: a free e-book! If you are feeling a bit unprepared for your big Valentine’s date tonight (as in: you have no idea what you’ll be doing 8 hours from now) check out my friend Carrie’s free e-book 101 Cheap Dates. It’s sure to give you the inspiration you need for planning tonight’s festivities (and 100 other exciting date nights, too)!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

staying inspired : easter edition

Things that made today so wonderful:

:: hope ::

“The Lord is alive and well in your heart. His resurrection resulted in Christ taking up residence in your soul and transforming your life. By faith you believed and God gave you grace upon grace. Because He has risen from the grave, He has given all who confess Him as Lord, abundant grace on earth and the promise of heaven with Him. “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” Romans 5:7. He is all you need.”

– Boyd Baily, Wisdom Hunters Devotionals

:: chocolate ::

(Which is loosely related to hope.)

:: running ::

no excuses

holiday

No excuse for my mom and me not to go for a little run around the block.

(Where she ran her FIRST, but definitely not last, outdoor mile!!!)

:: sports ::

1. Watching Bubba Watson win the Masters in “double overtime.” (Thank you, Mom, for that.)

2. Watching Moneyball : “He hit a home run and he didn’t even know it.” (Thank you, Jonah Hill, for that.)

Really, what else could you ask for? Faith, food, family, fitness and fun. All of my favorite things on a beautiful, meaningful day. Hope you guys had a great day, too! Happy Easter, everyone!

beka stays faithful : even better easter inspiration!

While I was searching for Easter inspiration on Pinterest yesterday I came across so many scripturally-based designs. These are the real gems!

truth

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John 16:33

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Philippians 4:8

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Jeremiah 29:13

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(which you do not know)

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Isaiah 43:1

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always loved this verse

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Matthew 28:6 "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

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Enjoy celebrating Easter, friends! Yellow daffodils and jelly beans and hopping bunnies and all – but especially the hope we have in Christ!

(That’s the best part…even when Easter candy is involved.)

beka stay creative : pinterest easter inspiration

People…how is Easter here already?! I don’t feel like I’ve even begun to adequately celebrate and it’s only a week away!

Which means it’s time to bring in the big guns. Pinterest, I’m looking at you.

What better solution to this problem (and really, all problems) than a quick trip around Pinterest to round up some Easter inspiration? These were a few of my favorites; stay tuned for a second installment tomorrow!

Easter egg banner from Creations by Kara. So sweet!

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mason jar easter baskets

(Mason Jar Easter Baskets?!?! Be still my heart!)

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Easter

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Jordan Almond bluebirds!

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Nest

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Easter place settings

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Bunny Wreath

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Origami Flower Easter Eggs

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Easter Candy Bark

(fantastic idea for using up loads of Easter candy – make Easter bark!)

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beautiful. soft. colors.

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Fun party favor for Easter Brunch :-)

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Easter Place Setting...He Is Not Here. For He Is Risen!

(This one’s my favorite idea! LOVE everything about this place setting!)

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Also (sugar coma) inspiring: this oldie but goodie, an ode to Easter candy.

(And really, isn’t Easter candy one of the best things about life? Thank you, egg-shaped treats of all kinds, for being so wonderful.)

beka stays athletic : a lucky run

I’ve done a lot of interesting things on St. Patrick’s Day.

And no, not the typical interesting things that happen on St. Patrick’s Day. These are interesting things that are not under the influence of alcohol.

Having spent a large percentage of my life as a competitive Irish dancer I’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in a variety of ways: dancing in parades, dancing on morning shows, dancing in supermarkets…the list goes on and on. But one thing I’ve never done on St. Patrick’s Day?

Go for an 8.5 mile run.

Go for an 8.5 mile run in 60 degree weather.

Go for an 8.5 mile run in 60 degree weather in ROCHESTER. (This phenomenon rarely happens in May, let alone March.)

It was a revelation.

I’d like to thank the sun for deciding to shine, Dierks Bentley for singing “Free and easy down the road I go” during my half way turn around point, and my pants for continually falling down – establishing the sentiment early on that there was no pride involved in this run. Which really helped facilitate my legs continuing to move when I felt like I was going slower than molasses in January. No shame.

On top of that, I also went to the public market, got a package I’d been waiting on, did my taxes, spent time with a friend while we were both being productive, made homemade Larabars, and talked to my parents on Skype.

I also avoided stepping directly in vomit from the stream of people outside my window who are clearly enjoying the festivities of the day. Luckily there are plastic bags attached to everyone’s railings for special moments like that.

If only I were kidding.

All in all, the luck of the Irish was upon me. What a great day!

beka stays hungry : slow cooker cranberry pork

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Well that looks fairly lame.

But I promise…it tastes much more exciting than it looks (thanks to how I’ve expertly styled it here).

This recipe is from the (amazing) family I nanny for. The crockpot had been on all day and it smelled SO GOOD so they sent me home with a container full of it’s contents…and I think it might be the easiest and best thing to ever come out of a slow cooker. Here’s the lowdown:

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork:

Ingredients:

  • Pork Tenderloin (weight/size dependent on desired serving size)
  • 1 bag of Whole Cranberries
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sweetener (sugar, agave, etc – apple juice worked well for me)
  • Apricot Jam for serving (optional)

Directions:

Place tenderloin, cranberries, and sweetener in a slow cooker. Turn heat to Low and cook for 6 hours. Serve topped with a small dollop apricot jam (this, oh my word, makes all the difference).

And the Rating:

Difficulty: If you can’t make this you probably shouldn’t be allowed in kitchens.

Preparation Time: Not Applicable. Literally.

Dumpster Dinner, Not Bad, Good, Really Good, or Unbelievably Amazing: Really good. And I feel like there could be lots of opportunity for customization too. Also, great family meal for the holidays – quick, easy, hearty!

Overall Rating: I’d say 3.5/5 but almost 4/5. This is only because I can’t envision myself making it for just me more than a few times a year, if that. I’m not the biggest carnivore. It also requires figuring out a few side dishes, and I’m all about one pot meals. But overall, I absolutely love having this recipe in my new arsenal.

beka stays hungry : valentine’s whoopie pies

I think this post is going to be my valentine this year. I love it that much.

My love for whoopie pies knows no bounds. It’s almost as intense as my love for shoo fly pie. But just almost.

Also, why is Pennsylvania fond of naming non-pie desserts as pie? Whoopie pies? Basically hand-held cake. Shoo fly pie? Basically cake with frosting on the bottom. Dear PA, perhaps we need to have a cake vs. pie tutorial. I’ll be happy to provide examples. And help sample.

But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is that Valentine’s baking + Saturday morning + a wonderful friend  =

A pretty perfect day.

These bright red beauties came from a recipe recently featured on Annie’s Eats. As always, she did not disappoint.

Also not disappointing: a free e-book! If you are feeling a bit unprepared for your big Valentine’s date tonight (as in: you have no idea what you’ll be doing 8 hours from now) check out my friend Carrie’s free e-book 101 Cheap Dates. It’s sure to give you the inspiration you need for planning tonight’s festivities (and 100 other exciting date nights, too)!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

beka stays creative : valentine’s day pins

I am not one of those single girls who burns things and cries while watching The Notebook on Valentine’s Day. Far from it. I LOVE this holiday!!!

Which is a little strange since I’m not a big fan of pink and have never dotted my i’s with hearts. But I am a fan of chocolate and love and winter. And chocolate. Therefore: bring on the Valentine’s festivities.

I made a pin board on Pinterest (try to disguise your shock) to corral all of the things that made me feel warm and fuzzy about February 14th. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Smores Cookies

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Spread cool whip on a tray and let sit in freezer. Use heart-shaped cookie cutter and place in hot chocolate

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Blankets

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flour

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Beleza27_large

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Encircled Effulgence Posts

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Spaghetti with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

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campfire.

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the 25 days of pinning : [day 2]

Pinned Image

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I have been ALL ABOUT the above Christmas newlywed session posted on The Sweetest Occasion earlier this week. Oh my goodness…it’s amazing!

Also amazing: I went through this week’s backlog of Google Reader posts tonight and found 8,000 new recipes I want to give a pre-Christmas-baking trial run this weekend. Or 8. But still:

cranberry oat banana bread

hot cocoa cookies

double chocolate ginger hazelnut cookies

soft gingersnap cookies

cake batter chocolate bark

eggnog breakfast crumble crunch cake

spiced sweet potato blondies with cranberries and white chocolate

salty caramel oat bars

Oh, man. I’m in trouble.

beka stays creative (slash, crazy) : the 25 days of pinning

I tried to avoid it. I forced myself not to think about it. I short-circuited every plan that sprouted up about it.

But I failed. And here’s why:

1 – I almost graduated with a degree in elementary education. Which means I harbor a propensity to make a big deal out of holidays. Glittery crafts and all.

2 – I did graduate with a degree in English. Which means I harbor a propensity to enthusiastically and expressively tell you about how much I love  holidays. I’m not partial, I love them all. But let’s be honest. I probably love Christmas more than almost anything in the world (other than maybe these things).

3 – You may have noticed…but I’m an obsessive compulsive list-maker. Or maybe you just thought I really liked writing with bullet points and numbers.

Due to these factors, I arrived at the conclusion that I am incapable of not doing it.

I have to do something Christmasy on the blog.

Which comes as a big surprise, I’m sure.

You know, I made an honest effort to quell the Christmas themed blog ideas that have been harassing me since Halloween, mostly because I’m attempting to scale back the number of things I try to tackle in a day. And really, what says scaling back more than adding on a new daily series to not one, but two blogs? But whatever. I’m gladly surrendering to the yuletide glow.

So people…we’re doing a Christmas series on this here blog (and…on this here blog), and not just any series…it’s a Pinterest series!!!

That’s right: we’re combining the most wonderful time of the year with the most wonderful website…ever!

Joy to the World.

Every day from now until the 25th, I’ll be posting a new Christmas pin. It might not be quite as creative as last year’s 25 Days of Christmas…but I’m still inordinately pretty excited about it!

To start things off right, here’s today’s pin!

(And for those of you following along in Google Reader, you can’t see it, but I’ve decked the blog halls for the holidays, complete with a new banner and falling snow courtesy of the smarties at WordPress. So you might want to pop over to the actual blog and take a peek!)