Spicy Black Bean and Corn Soup

I’ve never been a big fan of bringing lunch with me to work.  Oh, sure, I’ve had those moments where I convince myself I can save $5000 before Christmas because some misguided article told me all it would take were bag lunches, using hotel shampoo and filling up my gas tank at night!  That’s not REAL buy-in though, I think we can all agree. 

I’d like to point to some lunch trauma in my past (like being taunted for a soggy sandwich or finding mold on an apple), but the truth is: I think I’m just lazy.  The spectacular news coming out of that admission?  Fall is the BEST time to learn you’re lazy because SOUPS are EASY!  

Spicy Black Bean and Corn Soup 002

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Weekly Love Letter for Friday, October 17th 2014

Alyssa's Week

cupcakes from www.alyssaandcarla.com

“A busy but fun week.  My parents met us in New York, and we went to the Statue of Liberty. My husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. We were flying for most of it, but that just gave us an excuse to celebrate it all week!  I made lots of delicious treats for a few lucky kids from The British School in Tokyo. And trying to get over jet lag.  It KILLS me.  You’d think I’d have it figured out by now, but I just can’t get back on schedule.  It takes me about a week!”

*A few of these gold pumpkin votives would look really cute around my metallic jack-o’-lantern for a great Halloween tablescape.

*Did you know about baseball’s The Kissing Bandit?  Can you imagine if someone tried to pull this today?  Arrested…

*I looove peppadews, and these fried feta and chive stuffed peppadew poppers look fantastic.  A bit of work, but I really want to try them.

Carla's Week

Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 10.17.14 “Can you count a Friday evening Happy Hour (with ANNIE!) as carb-loading- even when the race is on Sunday morning?  I’m going to count it.  Remember that half-marathon I told you about a few months ago?  Yeah… that’s this weekend.  Did I train?  Well… no.  I’m going to depend on my every-other-day-gym-treadmill-jogs to get me through to the finish line.  Note: this is a TERRIBLE method of training for a race.  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  (I wish *I* could not try it at home.  Ooopsie.) ”

*The Etsy Blog shared this post about The Benefits of Teamwork and I love the tone and information.  “Finding Your Family” is such great advice for so many of life’s moments.

Photo walls are my jam and this one is just so pretty.  Fire up this Ode To Fall playlist and get started on your very own!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins w/ Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze.  (Look!  All my favorite words in one recipe!)

One year ago: Spiced cashew butter for your toast, for apple wedges, for banana slices. Or for a spoon.





Pretty in Pistachio added our DIY Candy Corn Trivets to her Hallowen Love List.

Pink Heels Pink Truck included our mason jar travel cups to her DIY Mason Jar Projects roundup.

 Oh The Lovely Things showed off our DIY Etched Spice Jar with Shaker Top on their Friday DIY Roundup!



Metallic Jack-o’-Lantern from a Dollar Store Pumpkin

metallic Jack-O-Lantern from www.alyssaandcarla.com

I love, love, love Halloween.  And I love decorating for the holiday.  But I’ll be honest, I don’t want orange all over my house.  There are more subtle ways to decorate for Halloween, like cobwebs and white pumpkins.  I also try not to get too serious, however.  I have a black and white portrait that I hang on my gallery wall that turns into a skeleton when you look at it from from certain angles.  And I try to make fun handmade decorations like this this dollar-store pumpkin makeover.  It turns a cheap orange and black plastic pumpkin into a metallic Jack-o’-lantern with a gilded shine that I can’t help but smile at.

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Five Ideas for an Awesome Care Package

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias. #AmazonWishList #AmazonHasIt #CollectiveBias

Ah, college.  The days of working your schedule to make sure you only had class two or three times a week, big plans every weekend, and studying hard while living off ramen noodles and air.  Sure, there are a few downsides: missing your friends at home, less convenient laundry access and no big pantry full of excellent snack options.  That’s where you come in: college is the PERFECT time for care packages stuffed with practical foods, treats and a little bit of home.  Read on for five simple tips brought to you by the new #AmazonWishList!

Five Tips for the Best Care Package Ever

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Weekly Love Letter for Friday, October 10th

Alyssa's Week

fan at fatty crab

“I’m approaching the end of a New York trip, and it’s been really fun.  Lots of good food, caught up with some friends that I haven’t seen in a while, spent some quality time with the parents, saw a Broadway show, and wandered around Manhattan.  

I’m excited to head back to Tokyo, but there’s a super typhoon headed toward the city!  It looks like it could really get in the way of our travel plans, so keep your fingers crossed for us and everyone in the path of the storm.”

*What kids eat for breakfast around the world.  Which looks best to you? I think Istanbul has the right idea.  Also, coffee for TWO YEAR OLDS in Brazil??

*Ruth Reichl’s scathing review of Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.  “…sloppy, indifferent service and food that reminded me of nothing so much as first class airline food.”  OUCH!

*Can’t wait to apply my new calligraphy obsession to this year’s Christmas presents!  How great are these calligraphy gift tags from Oh So Beautiful Paper.


Carla's Week

Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 10.10.14 “When great airfares happen, spontaneous trips occur.  And that’s how I ended up booking a January flight to the Big Island earlier this week.  My current favorite Hawaiian island is Kauai (what’s NOT to like?) since I favor it’s quiet, calm, peaceful vibe, delicious food (the BEST ravioli of my life), and my favorite race ever.  I’m excited to head to Kona to check out all it has to offer, but would love any tips y’all might have.  I have a flight and plan to rent a car, but no lodging reservations yet so I’m open to anything you might have.  Eep!  THANK YOU!”

*Have you heard of Cotton Bureau?  They’re an online shop that let’s designers submit their artwork for t-shirt sales if they can get enough folks to order their design.  I’m loving (and buying) this “Hustle” tee. Second choice?  This “Live, Fail, Learn” design.  Hurry hurry, each design is only open for a limited time until a new batch starts trying for 12 sales.

* Love form, function and Ikea?  This round up is full of great Ikea products and their uses.

Bat cupcake toppers are surely appropriate year round, right?  Right.  (SO CUTE.)  (BAT THEMED BIRTHDAYS IN JUNE?)  (I’m scared of bats.)  

One year ago: Make your own vanilla bean sugar.  We’re only slightly exaggerating when we say that this will change your life.  Add it to baked goods, coffee or tea, or give it as a gift.





Looking for some easy Halloween decor ideas?  Apartment Therapy included our DIY Candy Corn Trivets in a round up of 6 Easy & Quick Halloween Decor Ideas for Home.


Wicked Witch Manicure

I was brainstorming fun ideas for a Halloween inspired manicure when my friend Kelly posted about yellow nails.  Yellow nail polish?  HOW had this never occurred to me?  It’s so fun and fresh and unexpected.  I love the idea of wearing it on its own as an homage to the season, but it’s also the perfect backdrop to incorporate into something a little more special.

I initially thought I might like a jack-o-lantern set of nails, but it didn’t seem quite right.  So I scanned some of my favorite costumes from the past.  Present nails?  (Yup, I was a present one year when I was about eight, complete with a crepe paper bow hat.)  Cleopatra nails?  (Not obvious enough.)  ELPHABA NAILS?  Elphaba costume



Wicked Witch Manicure from www.alyssaandcarla.com

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Easy Matcha Latte

I took a quick caffiene break the other day and stepped into a really cute little cafe that specializes in matcha drinks.  They had matcha boba, standard matcha tea and you could add flavored syrups, honey, cocoa, and more! It was totally overwhelming, so I asked the cashier for a recommendation.  She suggested that I try a hot matcha latte.  It seemed pretty basic, considering all of the fun options they had, but I’d never had it before and thought it was worth a try.  And it was so, so good!  The matcha was a touch more bitter than I like it, so I added a little bit of sugar.  Perfect!

easy matcha latte from www.alyssaandcarla.com

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Latin Food: Chipotle Rice Bowl

* This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Ah, October. Not just the arrival of cooler weather (even here in CA I’m ready for some relief), but Hispanic Heritage Month!  (Did you know that the month is celebrated from Sept 15th to Oct 15th?  I had no idea.)  Of course, the first thing *I* think of when I think of Hispanic Heritage?  FOOD.  I spent most of my childhood watching my mom making latin food: arroz con pollo, enchiladas, tamales.  Now that we’re older, my sisters and I have taken over the recipes and added new twists, both because it’s a fun hobby and out of necessity.  One of my brothers-in-law is vegetarian- certainly not a problem in general, but I have to agree that our Mexican entrees generally revolve around meat.

Every year, we gather in a sister’s kitchen and whip up a huge batch of tamales for the holidays.  To accommodate a vegetarian diet, we make a vegetarian filling that often consists of squash, beans, and/or peppers.  (Not to get ahead of myself, but the vegetarian versions are often so delicious they’re gone first!)  I decided to partner with La Morena and #CollectiveBias to share a twist on our favorite recipe- a veggie mixture atop a chipotle pepper and adobe sauce rice!

Chipotle Pepper Rice Bowl from www.alyssaandcarla.com

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Weekly Love Letter for Friday, October 3rd

Alyssa's Week


“October! Yay! I won’t add to the plethora of blog posts that wax poetic about October, so I”ll just say that I love it and I’m very happy that it’s here!

This is going to be short and sweet because I have a flight to catch!  Headed to New York for about a week.  Is there anything fun going on that I have to do?  We’ve got lots of great meals planned, but I’m always down to squeeze in a second lunch or something, so let me know if you’ve got a favorite restaurant that I have to check out!  

Also, SUMO! We went last week while my sister-in-law was in town and had a blast.  I really love attending the matches.  They’re so colorful and dramatic, and I can’t get enough of the whole atmosphere.  If you ever get a chance to catch the tournament, DO IT!”

*I’m excited for fall comfort food, but not EVERY meal can be mac & cheese or pasta.  This autumn arugula salad with caramelized squash, avocado and pomegranate looks like the perfect healthy fall lunch.

*3 ingredients in this cocktail: bourbon, apple cider, ginger ale.  Brilliant.

Carla's Week

#austintx #bbq #barbecue “All those people who told me that Austin was just one of the best cities ever?  Totally right.  My work trip there this week ended up being incredibly action packed and I wasn’t even able to take in as much of the city as I’d like, but it was amazing.  We had incredible bbq (including a journey to La Barbecue pictured above: they were almost sold out of everything, but they gave us a platter of meat and a package of buns and, well, the rest is history), hit up some awesome bars (jumbo jenga!  Ruby Redbird beer!) and even got to catch a Spazmatics show.  When do I get to go back?”

*Soup season!  You KNOW ramen is on my mind.  I’m drooling over How Sweet It Is’s Roasted Chicken Ramen.  Look at that egg!

* I’ve always wanted to try felting, but it’s a little intimidating.  This adorable felted ball garland seems like a great place to start- plus you get GARLAND when you’re done.  I LOVE GARLAND.

* Go Green, Wear Blue.  Obsessed with this conscious denim from H&M. I’ll take that sweatshirt and that flowy linen tunic and that woven scarf and…

One year ago: DIY fall face mask with pumpkin.  Leaves your skin feeling soft!





Slap Dash Mom featured our Nutella Cappuccino in their round-up of 25 Fall Drinks and Smoothies!

Mark Lipinski’s Blog added our DIY Candy Corn Trivets as an “Idea I Love!”.

Don’t miss our DIY Relaxing Eye Mask in 15 Impressive Gifts for your Mother-In-Law on Dodu Burd.



Persimmon and Chestnut Bread with Cinnamon Crunch Topping

Listen, I love pumpkin and pumpkin spice just as much as the next girl.  But fall is about more than just pumpkin! It’s also about crisp, juicy persimmons and meaty, sweet chestnuts.  This sweet, buttery persimmon and chestnut bread incorporates two of my favorite, beautiful fall ingredients with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. Oh yeah, and the topping.  THE TOPPING.  It’s adds a crunchy contrast to the tender crumb of the bread.  It’s the best part.  I should warn you, don’t test the topping when you pull these loaves out of the oven.  You will end up picking all of the crunch off the top and you’ll end up with a naked loaf.

persimmon and chestnut bread from www.alyssaandcarla.com

Nope, that’s not a tomato.  That’s a really pretty persimmon!  Have you tried persimmons before?  Their flavors are a bit difficult to describe.  There are two common kinds.  This is a Fuyu persimmon, which is vaguely like a cross between an apple and a pear.  The other common variety is a hachiya persimmon, which is custardy and sweet when ripe.

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