Candied Kumquats (and Vanilla Bean Kumquat Syrup!)

These little candied kumquats are perfect for sprinkling over baked goods, dipping into really good dark chocolate, adding to your yogurt, or just snacking on them straight out of the bag.  As good as they are, however, the vanilla bean kumquat syrup that is a byproduct of the candying process is arguably the best part.   

vanilla bean candied kumquats with dark chocolate at

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Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos

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

Here we are: another Lenten season has arrived.  Some people are really good about planning for Lent: making sure they have special Friday lunches and dinners in place and stockpiling the fridge.  Me?  Not so much.  I’m a little more “hm, why are there fish and chips on this menu?” than that.  Growing up, we’d usually remember to go meatless JUST as we were preparing for dinner- leaving us with lots of tuna sandwiches and beans with tortillas.

In an effort to avoid those last minute meals, La Morena reached out to me about creating an easy and quick recipe that’s packed full of authentic and traditional flavor.  And as a bonus?  These Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos are perfect for those last-minute Friday dinners.

Creamy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos | Alyssa & Carla

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Weekly Love Letter for Friday, February 20th

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“We have friends in town with their 9-month-old son.  Walking around Tokyo with a baby is like living in a different city.  People interact with you when normally they would avoid eye contact, and they do anything they can to entertain the baby when they usually just fall asleep on the train.  Even the most unlikely people get excited when they see him.  We walked into the coolest hipster coffee shop, fully expecting to get dirty looks, and all of the staff immediately started cooing and acting like idiots to get him to smile.  The most excited one was a sweet 20-something guy who even came over to our table to take some photos and hold the baby.  It was delightful, and maybe bordering just a liiiittle tiny bit creepy.  Thankfully our friends are wonderfully relaxed parents!”

*These embroidered travel “photos” are so inspiring.  What talent!

*How beautiful is this botanical garden dome in Singapore?  Just a spectacular juxtaposition of modern technology and nature.

*I’m a bit obsessed with za’atar these days, and I’m pretty excited to try this za’atar eggs benedict.

Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 2.20.15“Audience participation Friday: hands up if you knew that cows aren’t really dangerous animals!  I… didn’t.  We went on an awesome hike with weather in the seventies last weekend and the one teeny tiny hiccup?  The herds of cows crossing at random intervals along the path.  They were pretty cute and definitely seemed more scared of us than we were of them, but I feel like you don’t just TAKE THAT CHANCE.  I was getting a good vibe from one sweet brown one and thought he might like to pet me and JUST as I wondering aloud it started sauntering toward me.  You’d freak out too, right?  I’m not the only crazy Californian who thinks cows could attack?  (I guess they don’t?  Will that be my last chance to ever pet a cow?  So many questions!)”

This sweater has the prettiest scallops AND it’s not made of wool.  SCORE! 

Vintage airline posters of San Francisco.  Ahh.

Gnocchi mac and cheese sounds SO YUMMY and somehow completely different than using pasta!

One year ago: Homemade vanilla chai tea sweetener.

Two years ago: Khao Soi Gai (Thai chicken curry soup)



Our DIY Ombre Dyed Shoelaces were in List Inspired’s fantastic roundup of 50 Spectacular DIY Shoe Make Over Ideas.  Check it out for some really creative inspiration.

4 DIY Beauty Products to #bendtherules with HP x360

One of our favorite ways to #bendtherules is creating beauty products with items you can easily find around your home.  When HP asked us to come up with a way to showcase their latest x360 (with laptop, tablet, stand and tent modes all in one!), it was a no brainer to share four of our very favorite DIY beauty products and encourage you to think outside the beauty shop and into your own cupboards.

DIY Greek Yogurt Mask

Our most popular mask, this one is uber-moisturizing and simple.  Only two ingredients (with an optional third!)- who says beauty has to be complicated or expensive?

Four At Home Beauty Products to #bendtherules (with HP) | Alyssa & Carla

 I can’t pick a favorite mode, but this tablet one sure is awesome.  Because the x360 has a touch screen, you can completely bend the keyboard back and use it flat- just like a tablet!  This makes it great for reading on the go.

Homemade Face Mask with Pumpkin

Don’t think pumpkin is just for pie and lattes!  We love this mask to exfoliate, smooth and moisturize.  An all around power house product that smells (and, honestly, TASTES) delicious.

Four At Home Beauty Products to #bendtherules (with HP) | Alyssa & Carla

 DIY Essential Oil Sugar Scrub

This a all around fave: great for everything from the shower to an at-home manicure and even makes a great gift.  Prepare for a spa like experience with this one!  Choose your favorite essential oil or make your own blend.

Four At Home Beauty Products to #bendtherules (with HP) | Alyssa & Carla

Ever tried to use your laptop while following a tutorial or recipe?  (I’ve honest to God cracked a screen while doing this- precarious propping against flour sacks actually doesn’t work…)  No need to worry with this HP x360- the cover bends over to create a tent shape that supports itself with no slipping or accidents.

DIY Mint Lip Duo (Balm & Scrub!)

Treat your lips to two refreshing treatments!  First, use the scrub to exfoliate dry skin away, then create a soothing balm for long-lasting moisture.

Four At Home Beauty Products to #bendtherules (with HP) | Alyssa & Carla

 Get ready for another truly awesome x360 feature: the stand.  Angle the screen back just far enough to let you watch your favorite videos!  I’m totally using this mode to try out some smoky eye video tutorials.  The clutch fact about all these modes?  Even with some of the coolest viewing options, this is STILL a laptop.  Use it for everything from serious business to serious play.

Four At Home Beauty Products to #bendtherules (with HP) | Alyssa & Carla

As a HUGE Meghan Trainor fan (pretty sure I’ll never be tired of All About That Bass and have you listened to Like I’m Gonna Lose You, her duet with John Legend?), I’ve loved learning more about her tour and finding out how she’s integrating social media and some of my blog favorites (like Bri Emery of Designlovefest!).  Head over to her tour page to learn more and get involved!

What is your favorite way to #bendtherules?  Got a favorite at-home product we should know about?  Share with us below!

Hey A&C Readers-  HP is on tour with Meghan Trainor and we’re proud to be a #bendtherules partner.  Today we’re showcasing the HP x360- an amazing product with 4 modes: Laptop, Tablet, Tent, and Stand.  Thanks so much for supporting our sponsors!

One Pot Pasta – Linguine with Lemony Mushroom & Onion Sauce

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sold on the idea of one pot pasta.  My mom’s side of the family is Italian and we’re very traditional in how we cook our pasta.  Carla loves them, though, and I couldn’t resist the fewer-dishes aspect of it.  I tried a few recipes from the interwebs, and I personally like the ones that take all that great starch that comes out of the pasta during cooking and turn it into a rich cream sauce.  It’s so logical!  You actually need less dairy when you make it this way, because the starch adds its own creaminess to the sauce. 

creamy one pot pasta with mushrooms and garlic from

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Weekly Love Letter for Friday, February 13th

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“Years ago, a Japanese chocolatier found out about Valentine’s Day.  Apparently his English wasn’t great (or maybe it was, come to think of it, and he was just really clever), however, because he misinterpreted how it works.  Valentine’s Day in Japan is a day when women give chocolate to the men in their lives.  A big box for your boyfriend, a medium-sized box for your boss (because he’s almost certainly male in Japan) and friends, and smaller boxes for other male coworkers.  People spend a fortune on these gifts.  Sound unfair? Well, just wait a month.  White Day is a made-up Japanese retail holiday on March 14th when the men have to give something BACK to any of the women who gave them chocolates.  But this gift has to be worth more than what the women gave you.  Way to milk an extra holiday out of our wallets, Japan.”

*This chestnut fettuccine! Not only does the recipe sound amazing, but the illustrated pasta maker is adorable.

*Who wants to make this vanilla caramel latte cake for me?

*Hannah at The Homesteady made a spectacular DIY cupcake box.

Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 2.13.15“You know what costs a lot of money? LAWNMOWERS. Especially when you have a patch of grass and not a football field. And, look, I know what I’m good at. When we signed the lease for our new place I told my boyfriend that contrary to my love of container gardens, I’m not signing on for lawn care. My solution? A gardener! (Spoiler: I didn’t get one.)

We spent several hours going over our choices this weekend at various home stores. Which is tough when, well, you’d really rather spend $300 on steak dinners and glitter. By the end of the day I asked about Craigslist, an option that he’d claimed wasn’t really cheaper. Except I logged on and found about 4 options in a 10 mile radius under $100.

Happy Valentine’s Day, S.  I got you a $25 lawnmower on Craigslist.”

Mapiful creates your own personally designed maps! 

* 10 Things You Should Know Before Getting Into a Relationship with Someone Who Loves Food.

* I went to the BEST party last weekend, a Galentine’s Day Soiree hosted by Annie!    Check out her adorable recap post here (There’s a giveaway!  Also- yes, it really WAS that gorgeous.) and stalk all the Instagram captures using the #galentinesdaysoiree hastag.  (Psst, Alyssa & Carla sponsored some goodies for the event!  A glimpse here and available in the shop here!)

One year ago: A raspberry and chocolate beer cocktail.  Perfect if you are unfortunate enough to have a significant other who doesn’t love champagne.  Not that we know anything about that :( 



Style Motivation included our “I Love You More Than…” Valentine in their 20 Lovely Last-Minute DIY Valentines roundup.

Savvy Sassy Moms included our Blueberry Exfoliating Mask in their roundup of DIY Face Masks to Pamper Your Skin.

Hosting or attending a Galentine’s Day party?  Our DIY wine ombre cork trivet is a great project to do with your girlfriends.  Here are 5 fun activities for a memorable day.

5 Ribbon Tape DIYs (or What to do with the Cute Ribbon Tape in Target’s Dollar Bins)

I won’t wax poetic about how much I love Target because it’s been done so many times before. But man, Target. And the dollar bins. I reserve a healthy corner of my suitcase on my trips to The States for dollar bin finds. One of the items I can never pass up is the super cute, seasonal ribbon tape. Have you seen these (if not scroll through to the end of the post)? Who am I kidding, you probably have a stash sitting in a closet somewhere. They’re so great, but their short length makes it harder to come up with cute craft ideas than you’d imagine! Here are 5 quick and easy ideas for how to use that cute ribbon tape from Target’s Dollar Bins.

5 ribbon tape diys

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Weekly Love Letter for Friday, February 6th

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“It’s funny how you can try an ingredient or dish multiple times and not like it, then suddenly you have it in a new way that’s eye-opening.  I was pretty sure I didn’t like Japanese sweet red beans (azuki).  I’ve tried them many times and never really understood the obsession (it’s in EVERY DESSERT HERE!).  

Then we had a delicious meal at our friends’ house, and they served a scoop of matcha ice cream with a few tiny mochi rounds and a spoonful of azuki for dessert.  The combination of flavors and textures was a revelation! The azuki added just enough sweetness to cut the bitter matcha, while matching its earthiness.  And the mochi provided something satisfying to chew while the creamy ice cream melted in your mouth.  I finally understand why people like it so much.  I’m still not sure about the paste form (anko), but I’ll keep trying it.”

*This cold weather has me craving chowder.  This one with chipotle chicken is right up my alley, but smoky shrimp sounds pretty fantastic too. I’m a huge sucker for Thai flavors, and I love that the creaminess in this chowder comes from coconut milk instead of real cream (plus: crab!).

*A really amazing table makeover that perfectly captures the concrete trend in interior design.

*WHAT? How do I see this? Added to the bucket list.

Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 2.6.15“Everyone says this, but it’s true: you don’t know how much stuff you have until you move.  I have entire outfits I don’t recall purchasing.  Camera lenses and old film all over the place.  DON’T ASK ABOUT THE WASHI TAPE COLLECTION.  I just don’t know what to do with it all.  Predictably, now that I know I own it, I really really “need” it.  (I’m rolling my own eyes at myself here.)

I shared an Instagram photo a few days ago about moving through all my beauty samples under the hashtag #sampledout and I would love for y’all to participate.  One, because I love beauty product reviews, especially from friends.  And two, well, I just kind of want to know that you need a hashtag and bursting bathroom storage to motivate you a little too.”

Draw Me A Song.  I’ll take one of each, please!

* A Mini Chocolate Layer Cake that’s just perfect for two.

* Loving this DIY Ombre Perpetual Calendar.  So sweet AND smart!

One year ago: Parmesan breadcrumbs stuffed artichokes.  One of my family’s generations-old Italian recipes and one of my absolute favorite treats! xo, A
Two years ago: Mexican chocolate bread pudding.  Creamy. chocolatey, cinnamon-y.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.



Our DIY Origami Heart Garland was included in’s 20 Brilliant DIY Valentine’s Day Decorations.

Raspberry Sparkler

While most people think of bubbly for a congratulatory toast or a brunch mimosa, we love it so much that we’re constantly thinking of ways to give the drink new life for other occasions throughout the year.

Raspberry Sparkler Cocktail | Alyssa & Carla #cocktail

One great idea for the upcoming season is this delightful drink, which pairs sparkling wine with a sweet raspberry liqueur for something bright and festive. We love the idea of serving this drink at a love-themed party – perhaps you’re planning to cook your partner dinner for Valentine’s Day? Throwing a party for your closest girl friends? (And we won’t judge if you just want to pull this recipe out for book club or any old Wednesday night. Pinky swear.)

Raspberry Sparkler Cocktail | Alyssa & Carla #cocktail

Raspberry Sparklers

Sparkling Wine/Champagne
Chambord (raspberry liqueur)

Add half an ounce (1 tablespoon) of Chambord to the bottom of your champagne glass.

Tilt the glass fill it with sparkling wine/champagne.

Toss 1 or 2 raspberries in the glass. (Not only will they add a sweet visual touch, but they’ll be extra tasty after soaking up the wine and liqueur combo!)

Raspberry Sparkler Cocktail | Alyssa & Carla #cocktail

Serving notes:

This drink looks great with a sugared rim. Before pouring the drink, place some granulated sugar into a shallow dish. Do the same in a second dish with a few tablespoons of champagne or water. Wet the rim by dipping it in the champagne first. Then dip into the sugar, coating well. Bonus points for adding a shake of colored sugar (like the kind you use to decorate cookies and cakes)!

We opted to forgo the sugared rim since we wanted to use these super cute swizzle sticks.  Lots of swizzle stick options available in our shop!


*** Last year we were lucky enough to be selected to create a few cocktail recipes for a fellow blog.  Since they were never run here on A&C, we thought we’d repost them for you to try!  Hope you enjoy these tasty recipes! ***