Everything and the Kitchen Sink

When it comes to salads I think just about anything goes – I’ll throw all kinds of leftovers on top of a pile of greens and call it a day.  With Thanksgiving, the leftovers game is half the fun.  My go-to in the past has been a loaded up turkey sandwich, but this year I decided to try my hand at a Thanksgiving leftover salad since I was turkeyless.

Behold this beaut … Romaine topped with our brie, goat cheese, and fig appetizer, brussels sprouts salad, fresh pomegranates, and balsamic glaze.

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Yes, it was as delicious as it looks and since everything was already made to perfection (thanks, mom!) it was on the plate and ready to eat in no time.

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Thanksgiving

For most Americans Thanksgiving is the ultimate holiday.  I personally love it because it’s the one day a year when my atrocious eating habits are completely acceptable, and piling three separate desserts onto your plate post-feast is not only considered the norm, but encouraged.

My family went above and beyond this year with the spread.  Since it was my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian I was a little nervous, but I had more than my fair of delicious things to load my plate up with!  From vegetarian stuffing and two types of potatoes to a delicious quinoa salad there wasn’t enough room on my plate for all the goodies!

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It was a hard choice, but my personal faves of the day were the fig, goat cheese, and brie appetizers and the brussels sprouts salad which was loaded up with dried cherries, marcona almonds, apples and balsamic glaze (recipe inspired by Napolese).

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Of course the day isn’t just about the food.  I’m lucky enough to have a life filled with so many wonderful people, experiences, and things that it’s easy to be thankful most days of the year … but it is nice to have an entire day devoted to basking in the glow of the good things in life.

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Brunchy Bliss

Is there anyone in this world who can honestly say they don’t love brunch?  It’s my favorite.  I feel there’s no more delicious, leisurely meal out there, and it’s never complete without good company.  Plus, somehow the idea of combining two meals makes it feel totally acceptable to eat the most sinful things on the menu in completely obscene quanities.

There’s nowhere better in the Indy area to grab brunch than Cafe Patachou.  It’s always packed to the brim and for good reason.  Since 1989 (shout out to me, Taylor Swift, and all the others who hail from ’89!) it’s been an Indy institution.

Cafe Patachou

From the endless flow of a wide variety of coffees (my brews of choice were Cinnadoodle and Pumpkin Spice this weekend), to the menu chock full of the most delicious options you simply can’t beat a Patachou brunch.  The girls and I have tried other places, but we always end up right back, fighting the crowds, at our old favorite place.

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I opted for the egg white omelette with balsamic onions, spinach, and herbed cream cheese, while the other two went for the omelette of the day with bacon-roasted tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  Don’t they sound like the most decadent things?  And they’re always served with two delicious sides.

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I want to make a bed of their cinnamon toast and live in it forever so I always order that alongside my omelette.  To say it’s heavenly would be the understatement of the century … I highly recommend everyone gets their hands on it at least once in their life.  Angie on the other hand went the healthy route and chose greens instead of toast (questionable judgement), like Kelsey and I.

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Just like Paris, Patachou is always a good idea.

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A Year in Travels

I suppose November is a smidge early to start yearly reflections, but as I sadly have no trips planned between now and the New Year (unless anyone wants to surprise me!) I figure now is as good a time as ever.  I was scrolling through my camera and was completely blown away by how lucky I feel to have visited so many new, and old familiar places in 2014.  I’m always daydreaming of international travel, but we really do have some incredibly cool places stateside that are worth shouting about too!

This post is picture heavy, but that’s never been a bad thing has it?  So get comfy, sit back, and enjoy a little Instagram journey through a year’s worth of American adventures.

I rang in the New Year with a trip I’d waited all my life for.  A trip to the Big Apple to interview for an opportunity of a lifetime.

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After a successful visit in January, February brought with it another trip back to NYC.  This time I had the pleasure of staying for a week and change (thanks to the Polar Vortex which was no joke).  It was everything I dreamed of and more!

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New York City in the Winter

May and June marked the official start of my summer and began with my cross-country western journey.

From Indy to a strikingly adorable Saint Louis …

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Across America …

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To dreamy Santa Fe and the mind-blowing Grand Canyon …

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Grand Canyon

And the most beautiful place of all,  (although I’m admittedly slightly biased) San Diego …

Dreamy San Diego Skyline from Coronado

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Up to Los Angeles, the land of so many dreams.

Hollywood and Vine

LA LA Land

Then there was a train ride straight up the beautiful west coast.

California Coast

To my Pacific Northwest home for the summer, cute little Edmonds, WA.

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Edmonds Marina Perfect for experiencing small town coastal life, and big city Seattle living all at once …

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Centurylink Seattle Sunset

And weekend explorations to places like LaPush and Crescent Lake.

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Then off to another new place, Winter Park, Colorado, for the wedding of the year!  And the most precious of family time.

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Winter Park

Come September it was back to NYC for this girl! Three times in one year … I think that’s a sign I should just move there, right?

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So here we are.  Early November and I’ve seen more of the U.S. in one year than my entire life to this point.  Not too shabby.

Make sure to scroll back through the archives for all the many tales that accompany these adventures!

Here’s to hoping 2015 is packed full of travel just like this year has been … I’m one lucky girl!

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A Tale of Two Pumpkins

Lately I’ve been in full fall loving mode and craving anything and everything pumpkin.  After spending more time than I care to admit scanning Pinterest I finally decided on the recipes* to satisfy my cravings!  One is sweet, one is savory, and they are both heavenly!

For my sweet tooth I found a great recipe here, but true to form I went rogue and made a handful of changes, the biggest being a switch to gluten free flour.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

2 cups of gluten free flour (I’ve found Arrowhead Mills All-Purpose baking mix to be the best)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 and 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 can pumpkin
Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, salt & soda) and set aside. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients, gradually and make sure it’s mixed well.
Spread batter in a greased 15x10x1 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes – with the gluten free flour these can take a little longer than your average baked good, so I just recommend keeping a close eye on them.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz. package of cream cheese
1/3 cup softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp milk
Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk.  Mix on high speed until smooth creamy.  This makes loads of frosting, but extra frosting is a good problem to have.  I plan on freezing it and using it for future baking endeavors! (Red velvet cupcakes anyone?)
GF Pumpkin Bars - It's a Roman Thing
GF Pumpkin Bars - It's a Roman Thing
I shouldn’t toot my own horn, but these were some of the best gluten free treats I’ve ever had.  GF baked goods are so often dense, heavy, and dry, but these were super moist and delicious.  You’d never guess they were gluten free!

For vegetarians and meat eaters alike this soup is the perfect meal for a chilly autumn night.
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
2 cups pumpkin puree
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 tsp. chopped, fresh thyme
1 can garbanzo beans
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp. freshly ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup 2% milk or heavy whipping cream
Add black pepper to taste
Sit the milk to the side for later and add all of the other ingredients to a large pot and bring it to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil reduce to low heat and continue to cook for 30 minutes.  Using an immersion blender or food processor blend the mixture together.  Add the milk and cook an additional 30 minutes.  Top with pepper, sriracha (my weapon of choice), or sour cream to taste.
Scoop it into some big bowls for a meal, or serve it alongside some grilled cheese or quesadillas for a perfect fall dinner.
Creamy Pumpkin Soup - It's a Roman Thing
Both recipes are incredibly easy and such crowd pleasers!  I’ll be adding these to my list of favorites and plan on making them for years to come.
*Note:  In the spirit of full disclosure I should say, there was a third recipe.  A recipe that went so horribly awry that it wasn’t edible.  No one ever said this was a cooking blog!
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A Fashion Love Story

Today someone asked me what my favorite article of clothing was.

For a fashion lover like me that falls into the category of unanswerable questions.  There are so many things I love!  To have to answer that would be some kind of torture.  But then I really started thinking about it and one thing kept coming to mind.  I think that’s when I realized I do actually have a favorite article of clothing.

Why is it my favorite?  Well, it has a story.  This dress came into my life after I’d spent the most beautiful last day in Rome with Bethany and Kaitlyn.  We’d trekked all over the place from Campo de Fiori to the Isola Tiberina to the Mouth of Truth taking in every last bit of Rome we could.  For hours we walked breathing in the crisp cool air, committing the smells of the fresh food to memory, and taking mental pictures of our magical home that we could hold with us forever.  And then the time came to rush back to our Tiziano home for the Christmas Banquet.

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But how could I go to a Christmas dinner without a fancy new dress?  After running to Benetton and realizing they’d sold out of the dress I’d had my eye on for weeks I popped into the nearby 10 euro store just to see what they had and that’s where I happened upon my now favorite dress.  The pictures can do the talking, but it’s clear to see why this was the winner.With my pretty new dress in hand I rushed back to the Tiziano to toss it on just in time for the Christmas Banquet.

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That dinner was one of the loveliest, most bittersweet things I’ve ever experienced and after filling our bellies fuller than we ever knew was possible we went off for our final evening stroll of Roma.  The memories from that day and evening are some of my dearest.

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So yes, yes I do have a favorite article of clothing.  It’s a beautiful Italian dress that I bought for just 10 euros and wore on one of the best, most bittersweet days of my entire life.  Each time I’ve worn it since I’ve felt like a million bucks and been filled with happiness and memories.
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I would love to hear about other people’s favorite items!  Or am I the only one who’s had a smashing love affair with a dress?

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One Last Railroad Weekend

For as far back as I can remember the arrival of September and October meant it was pumpkin train time.  My grandfather, who has gotten many mentions in this blog of mine, took his love of all things trains and a lifetime of savings and put it into creating the place of his dreams.  After years in the military and a long, successful career behind him, my grandpa used his retirement as a chance to spend his time with his family doing something he loved.  My grandma, uncles, mom, and all of their families came together over many years and brought the New Haven and Lake Erie railroad to life.

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Each September and October people would literally line up outside the gates waiting for their chance to ride our train back to the pumpkin patch and pick out their pumpkins, gourds, and treats for the fall season.  Grandpa and Uncle Greg were the engineers, grandma ran the ticket office, and myself and the rest of the family took turns doing the other jobs.  Adults, children, families, school groups, and everyone in between loved the railroad and it became famous in the area.

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For a little kid the place was magical.  We got all the free train rides we wanted, our pick of the best pumpkins, and a woods to explore, build forts, and play make believe in.  We even had our own Tarzan vine to swing on.  After my grandparents passed away Uncle Greg took over the railroad, but living far from the property and having all of us scattered across various colleges and cities, and the cost of upkeep growing it became harder and harder to keep NH&LE alive.  So with a heavy heart he made the decision that everyone knew was coming – it was time to let the railroad go.

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Yesterday we had our last hurrah at the railroad.  The big steam engine Arnold unfortunately still couldn’t run, but we had all of the other cars out.  Friends and family came together to bid farewell to a place where we’d all spent so many countless hours.

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It was a sad day, and I genuinely wish we all could have kept it going, but it was so nice to have the chance to have one final crisp, fall day at the railroad.  We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect final farewell to NH&LE railroad.

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