Weekly Love Letter for Friday, October 24th 2014

Alyssa's Week

spice merchant from www.alyssaandcarla.com

“This week was full of friends we haven’t seen in a while, too much craft beer, and several delightful calls with my favorite, Carla!  It was a great week, although a little busier than I prefer!  I like to have one, maybe two, big projects every week, along with the normal weekly blog posts.  Which gives me some down time in between.  What about you? Do you like to be busy all the time or do you need time to recharge your batteries?”

*AAAH! Of course the Museum of Tea Culture is shaped like a teapot! Delightful.  And this is the most adorable gas station I can even imagine, also shaped like a teapot.

*Pizza with butternut squash and smoked mozzarella. I’ll take 2, please.

*These cheesecloth ghosts are so cute! They seem pretty easy to do. I want to make a whole swarm of them!

Carla's Week

Carlas-Weekly-Love-Letter-For-10-24-14 “A couple weeks ago, we went to visit my boyfriend’s sister and brother-in-law a few hours away in Wine Country.  The weekend was ALL about my favorite food: caramelized onion cheese, s’mores on a real backyard fire pit, olives, etc.  (I should point out that I didn’t have anything to do with the theme- we’ve started a competition of who can be the best host and I think they were really working on bribing the judges.)  To spruce up Sunday morning breakfast, we brought up a box of Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake mix (which, incidentally, I HIGHLY recommend.)  After some twists and turns with the recipe where I was accused of overusing butter (#notpossible), a bit of the batter was turned into these charming waffles.  And THEN I was instructed to take this photo and add the caption: “Hashtag: DELICIOUS.”  

I’ve now fulfilled my duty, but mostly I dare you to ever think of waffles without using that line again. :)”

*It’s entirely true that I want to buy all the things at Target on every visit, but really.  I NEED this rose gold flatware.  You understand.

* The Empowerment Plan.  Yup, I cried.

The National Geographic 2014 Photo Contest.  A can’t miss collection of images year after year.

One year ago: Pumpkin ice cream with salted caramel sauce.  When you want fall flavors but it’s too warm for soups and stews.





Country Living added our DIY Candy Corn Trivets to their roundup of Last Minute Halloween Decorations You Can Make in a Flash.



Mandarin Oranges with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

It’s not really fair to call this a recipe.  It’s more like a set of very, very easy instructions to help you make an incredibly quick and slightly fancy dessert.  Or a very fancy afternoon snack.

mandarin orange segments with dark chocolate and sea salt from www.alyssaandcarla.com

I taught the most delightful cooking class out of our apartment yesterday.  The “student” brought her adorable, 3 year old daughter along.  We sat her in front of the TV with The Little Mermaid while we cooked, and she occasionally popped into the kitchen to see what we were up to and to have a taste of what we were cooking.  I put “student” in quotation marks because that’s not really giving her enough credit.  She’s incredibly comfortable in the kitchen and has even taught cooking classes herself in Japan, so I’m not sure that I really “taught” her anything.  She saw my scrapelle meal on KitchHike and really wanted to learn how to make it.  It felt more like we were cooking together, and I was showing her how to make one of my favorite dishes.  And that’s pretty much the best day ever, if you ask me!

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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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