Crazy About Cookbooks Part 4

I'm continuing my cookbook collection/ wish list series. If you love to cook or are interested in finding out about cookbooks continue reading below. You can find the first, second, and third posts by clicking not the links. **Click the number words to see the post. I hope you enjoy my mini-reviews :)

What I've been looking at...

Juli Bauer's Paleo Cookbook

I have been reading the blog PaleOmg for some time now and I really like Juli Bauer. I love how she is unapologetically herself and she cracks me up with her honesty. She says what's on her mind and keeps it real. She posts recipes all the time on her website and I've tried several of them over the years. She also posts Fashion Fridays which I love! She has the cutest style and her body= goals lol. Does that make me sound creepy? But seriously she is in great shape! I have been looking forward to her cookbook especially because it's paleo. We try to eat paleo at home as often as possible. It's a little harder to do this when we're out and let's be real, I love ice cream and pizza lol. This little guy will be joining my collection sometime in the near future.

Update: Juli came to San Diego for a book signing and I missed it :( I was so bummed that I couldn't go. To check out her book tour click here.

From my collection...

Buy it here

Two in the Kitchen By Christie Dufault & Jordan Mackay

This is what I consider my fancy cookbook. This book is a collection of recipes from different couples and has lots of tips and stories to go with each. They tell you what they first made for their spouse and the kind of meals they like to cook. They also include different ideas on how to cook as a couple or for a party. I love that they set the scene of the party too, for example the kind of music they will play and how they will have freshly poured champagne waiting for their guests. It makes me want to throw a dinner party asap. I consider it my fancy cookbook because they make the meals sound so grown up and elegant. I'm not going to lie, some of the recipes sound very intimidating but for the most part they are totally approachable. I've made several things from this cookbook including this brownie cake. It was so yummy! This is a great one to help step up your cooking game.

My Go-to Side: Roasted Sweet Potatoes

One of my go-to side dishes is roasted sweet potatoes. It's just such an easy side to throw together and always tastes delicious. I change up the spices and other veggies I add to the sweet potatoes but they are always the shining star of the dish. Last week I had a sudden change in dinner plans when I realized the chicken didn't smell just right {yuck!!} so I pulled out the tri-tip and some sweet potatoes. I love to roast the potatoes with bell peppers and onions but I wanted to save those for the kabobs I was going to make later in the week. I decided to dice the potatoes and roast them with olive oil, maple syrup, rosemary, salt, and pepper. It was so simple but also so yummy!

Here is the quick and easy recipe:

4 small sweet potatoes
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1- 1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Then peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into a small dice. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, maple syrup, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. **It's important to lay the potatoes out flat so they don't overlap. This will help them cook more evenly. Place in oven for thirty minutes and stirring half way through. Turn up the temperature to 450 degrees for 5-10 more minutes. This will help the outside to be nice and crispy. I learned this trick from Lindsay at Seven Layer Charlotte. She has great healthy recipes and if you haven't read her blog you should check it out asap! I hope you enjoy this simple but yummy side dish.

Weekend Recap

Whoa what a weekend! We were busy from early Friday morning to Sunday afternoon but we had such a great time. We met wonderful people and LOVED being in Half Moon Bay. Such an incredible place. Since I was having SO much fun I barely took any pictures :( Whoops! Anyways I hope you had a great weekend. Here are a few of the pictures from our weekend...

Leaving on a jet plane...

the view from our room

One of the adorable dessert stations

dinner on Friday night

Bathroom selfie :) Btw this dress is SO COMFY and under $30 at Old Navy. Buy it here. Also there's a 40 percent off deal for the whole website right now. Swoop this little guy up asap!

Creme Brûlée mmm

The dinner on Saturday

Our overcast view from the room Sunday morning
Annnnd for the best part of the weekend... Baby Jax Hellem was born on Friday morning! SO exciting!! Congrats Hellem family!!

Five On Friday +1

We are currently on our way to Half Moon Bay. I am so excited for a fun weekend away, especially since the weather is supposed to be much cooler! YAY! Once again this week was pretty crazy and I'm ready to unwind this weekend. Hopefully I'll have some beautiful pictures to share on Monday. Happy Friday everyone!

One- Rhys' Birthday Dinner

My friend Rhys' birthday was on Tuesday and a few of us went out to celebrate the birthday girl. We went to Rustic Root downtown for a pre-dinner drink. It was such a cool atmosphere and I can't wait to go back there. The 2nd level was all open and it was the perfect night to sit outside. 

Then we headed to Blush for dinner. Everything was served family style which is my favorite! I love ordering a bunch of dishes and being able to try everything. The food was delicious and I especially loved the Wasabi Hashbrowns... great recommendation Dina! :)

It was such a fun night out with some of my favorite people. I love that no matter how busy we all get it just feels relaxed and fun to be together. Happy Birthday Rhys!!!

Two- NYX HD Concealer

Buy it here. 
I bought this concealer last weekend at Ulta and I'm in LOVE! It blends like a dream and doesn't look cakey or heavy like many other concealers. The color seems to match me perfectly and is just the right amount of a pinky undertone. I bought the color C3 which doesn't seem to translate to the colors online. It was the third lightest shade but matches me pretty well. I have a hard time finding a concealer that doesn't settle into fine lines so I was thrilled to see that this one wears so well. Plus the under $4 price tag is awesome!

Three- Green Utility Vest

I finally found a mossy green utility vest! I have been searching for one for a few weeks but didn't want to pay $80. While I was at TJ Maxx last weekend I spotted a single vest on a rack by itself. I quickly grabbed it and practically sprinted to the dressing room. It felt pretty well although I wish they had a small to try on. It was on sale for $40 and I had a $25 gift card, woohoo! Hopefully it will be cool enough for me to wear it this weekend. I can't seem to find this exact one online but it's a Lucky brand vest. If I find it I'll link it under the picture. Sorry!

Four- Fall Cups

Okay, here I go being a cliche but I can't help it! I love the new fall cups at Starbucks! They are so fun and just increase my itch for some cooler weather. I've officially switched to hot lattes instead of iced because if the weather won't cooperate I'll just pretend it's fall by my beverage choices :) Great idea right?? 

Five- Workout Inspiration and Lack-there of

Find this week's schedule here.

I have had the hardest time getting motivated to workout and to eat healthy lately. I think that with school starting again and how busy we've been (with people in town or us out of town) that I just don't have the energy. Plus when I'm out of my routine I tend to stay out of the routine. Isn't that crazy how we can work out religiously and then we stop for a week and all of a sudden we feel like it's impossible to find time?? Ugh, that bugs me. Enough with the whining... I am going to make a change. I signed up for the Fit for Fall challenge with Tone It Up and it started this week. Well week one was a fail for me because I only did two of the workouts but I'm hoping to sneak in a couple more this weekend on our trip. The Tone It Up online schedule makes it easy to find a workout and helps to give you options in case you don't have weights or a kettebell. Anyone else doing the challenge??

+1 Just because I can :)

Just a little shout out to my hubby... he knew I was super stressed this week and while I was out running errands on Wednesday he made me dinner. This was so sweet because I really did NOT want to stand in the hot kitchen after I had a long day. Plus he cleaned up :) I'm a lucky girl!

As always I'm linking up with AprilNatashaChristinaKarliErikaNarci, and Andrea :) Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Crazy About Cookbooks Part 3

I am a self-proclaimed cookbook lover. I have a true passion for cooking and new cookbooks inspire me to try something different. Plus I can steal the little tips and tricks from the cooks. I love that! I have been lusting over several new cookbooks and I thought I would share a few of them with you. Also, I'm including a small snapshot of what I have in my collection. To see the first two posts click here and here

What I have my eye on...

Buy it here

Endless Summer Cookbook by Katie Lee

I love the design and layout of this cookbook. Katie was so creative with how she added the handwritten portions and the pictures are just stunning. They make food look like a work of art and leave your mouthwatering with each turn of the page. I basically want to be Katie Lee after seeing this book. It's a summer cookbook but I pretty much live in eternal summer in San Diego so I feel like it's appropriate any time of year. She also includes ideas for wine pairing and for entertaining as a whole. This is a must buy!

From my collection...

Buy it here.

The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider

This was a gift from a student and I was so excited to receive it. I've read it cover to cover and I feel like I have a really good understanding of all the different kinds of peppers and how to use them. That's good right?? I was under the assumption that because the recipes were in a slow cooker that they would be pretty easy. Well turns out most of the recipes are very involved. That's not a bad thing but I just have to make sure I only do those recipes on days when I have more time. I made a verde chicken soup and shredded chicken tacos so far and WOW they were delicious!! Schneider is big on making everything from scratch so I plan on trying to make my own stock from her recipe soon. 

Things that Happen in Fall

Fall is so close that I can taste it. I can literally taste it because I've been drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes since Starbucks sent out the "secret" early code. Yep, I'm the weirdo ordering a hot drink while it's still in the 90s and 65% humidity here. Ugh, can it cool off already??? In the meantime I'll just drool over all the clothes, house decor, and food that will hopefully soon be in our midst. Here's a fun little roundup of even more things that happen in fall in my world :)

1. Candles, candles, everywhere! I love having candles burning in my houses any time of the day. Except the time that I'm not home, because that would be dangerous, right?? Haha Target has a great selection of candles and I love the warmer scents for the fall. The Signature Soy candles are only $10 for the large ones! Such a deal. When I'm in the mood to splurge I'll go to bath and body works to stock up on their famous fall scents. To see my top picks click here, here, and here.

2. Don't these apples look insanely good??? As much as I love to cook baking is not my forte. I would love to be able to whip up cakes and cookies like my friend Katie but I've just never been skilled in this area. This doesn't stop me from trying though.  Like most people, when the fall season rolls around I crave apple and pumpkin desserts. I found these on pinterest last year and knew I had to try them when the weather cooled down. To find the recipe click here. The bonus is that you bake them in a crockpot! So easy!

3. Canvas jackets are such an easy way to pull an outfit together. I live in sweaters but sometimes it's just nice to have a lightweight jacket. I bought this one last year and I also have a mossy green jacket in a similar style. I'm such a neutrals girl so this little guy was calling my name! I can't wait to start wearing it again.

4. Who doesn't love a good vest?? I have a couple that are in constant rotation during the fall and winter months. Mark got me a gray puffy vest a few years ago for Christmas that it great for more outdoorsy activities and I also have a furry North Face vest that he got me last year. The vest in the picture is my most recent purchase from Old Navy. I love that it's super light weight and has a quilted detail. It will be great to throw over the many many plaids I own. Speaking of plaids check out this one I got a few weeks back. So cute! I own waaaay too many but I love them.

5. I can't wait to pull out my scarves in just a few weeks or hopefully sooner! They just make every outfit so effortless and pulled together. My friend Stephanie and I talk about scarves and boots all summer long. We need to move to somewhere cooler lol. Plaid scarves were super trendy last year and I'm hoping the trend continues. They are so cute! The one above is from Forever 21 and such a steal at $12.90. I also like this one.

6. The leaves! I love seeing the leaves change. Since there aren't many trees that change colors near my house I love my drive into work. There are lots of trees in that area and they just remind me that the holidays are growing closer and closer.  I love this! We took this picture two years ago in Indiana and it brings back the best memories!

7. Mmm cookies! Remember how I said I'm not good at baking?? Well that doesn't stop me from making cookies! I made these pumpkin cookies a few times last year and I loved them! I will pretty much try any pumpkin dessert and these didn't fail in the yumminess department. Mark doesn't love pumpkin, which must have been why I made so many pumpkin things last year. He was deployed lol. This year I'll have to sneak in the pumpkin cookies and tell him they are normal. Do you think he will notice lol? Here is the recipe.

8. Yup more pumpkin stuff. Sorry! I haven't made this Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe yet but when I was pinning it Mark asked me when I was going to make it. YAY! I'm glad that I won't have to drink the whole thing myself. Wait a minute... maybe I should make it when he's on a work trip. Just kidding, Mark :) I plan on making this next weekend. Mmm!

9. I love making chili in the fall, especially The Pioneer Woman's Chipotle Chicken Chili. Its just the right amount of smoky and spicy which is perfect in my book. I made this over Thanksgiving weekend last year and have made it countless times before that. Do yourself a favor and make this now!

Book "Over" Review- Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Buy it here
I finally finished Paula McLain's book Circling the Sun. Oh man, I thought I would never get into it!  I had the hardest time connecting with the characters. Fiiinally I started to really like Beryl (the main character) and actually enjoyed the book. Part of the problem was that I was listening to the book on my phone instead of reading it myself. I am a pretty fast reader and I can finish a book quickly so listening to "slower" books can be torture. The positive side of listening to Circling the Sun was that pronouncing some of those words would have been near impossible for me but luckily the narrator did it for me, woohoo! Also, like I've mentioned before, my commute is very loooong and listening to audiobooks saves my sanity. So enough rambling, let's get into this book over review.

Close your eyes and imagine this scene (well keep them open so you can read, but pretend to close them lol)... a vast amount of open space, a young naive girl being raised by her horse-trainer father, and a rich European community buying up land to live with no real rules or restrictions. This was Kenya in the 1920's. Beryl is the young girl and is the main character of the book. When reading, you grow with Beryl from an adolescent learning the ins and outs of horse-training to her quick push into adulthood at a very early age.  Beryl's rough edges and unconventional childhood made it hard for me to identify with her as a person and especially with her decisions. I had quite the disconnect with her in the beginning but was then pulled into her story, and what a rough and bumpy story.

Beryl dove head first into married life at the age of 16. She was in a tough situation with her father losing the farm and decided to do what made the most sense at the time. This turned disastrous quickly. While reading, I kept thinking that she should stick it out but as Beryl proves time and time again, she can't be tied to something/ someone she doesn't fully believe in. Every turn in her life seems to take her down another emotional roller coaster where she comes out damaged and also hurting those around her. Love is especially one of the those areas that tugs at your heart and makes you want to say, "Nooo, don't do that!" or "WHY?!?!"  She overcame every obstacle in her life even though some of them cost her dearly. Her life was lived to the fullest as a woman who couldn't be tied down to the society norms including becoming a horse-trainer and a pilot, which was almost unheard of at that time.

I spent most of the book switching from admiring her, envying her boldness, and wanting to shake her and yell "STOP!" Her story is proof that freedom comes at a cost and it's up to you to decide if the risk is worth it. If you asked me two weeks ago if this book was worth reading I would have said no but now my answer would definitely change. This book is a must-read. It was just so different from the typical story I am drawn to. That's probably why I had such a tough time sinking my teeth in. Thank goodness I am stubborn and was unwilling to "quit" the book because my long journey into the story was worth it in the end. Paula McLain tends to be long winded in her writing, which I can relate to (haha), but she has such an incredible gift of setting a scene that it makes every word worth it. Go out and buy this book asap, but maybe just don't listen to it on audiobook :)

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think?

What should I read next??

Weekend Recap

Another fun packed weekend for the Bradfords. We started off this fun filled weekend at dinner with Mark's good friend Sammy. We barely ever get to see him because he lives in Rhode Island so this was a special treat. He's such a sweet guy and we had a blast chatting with him over burgers and beers. Miss you already!
Lauren and Chase, Mark's mom and brother, were in town to visit this weekend as well. We started the weekend by running some quick errands before dinner. We (as in Lauren and I) went to Ulta and to return a couple things at Old Navy. I picked up the PSSSSTT dry shampoo because I was out of my Batiste dry shampoo and wanted to try something new. So far it seems to work pretty well. I also got a sample size of the Kenra Perfect Hold Hairspray, the new L'Oreal mascara, and the NYX HD concealer. I have been wanting to try the concealer for awhile but it's never at my Target. I'll update you on what I think about these products soon. While we checked out the new items at Ulta, Mark and Chase were in Golfsmith... per usual lol. Then we had dinner at Gordon Biersch with the Wooster fam. I love spending time with them!

Collin, Mark, and Kathy
Collin, Chase, Lauren, Mark, Uncle Mark, and Kathy
The next day we woke up early to head out to DISNEYLAND! Woohoo! We got on the road a little later then planed but made it to the park by 9:30. It was a great day and the park wasn't too crowded. I feel like the pictures will better tell the story of the day. 
So picture dump in 3, 2, 1...

Oktoberfest... mmm 

We had a blast! Can't you tell? :) Mark surprised me with a cute Minnie hat and had my name embroidered. So sweet of him! We left around 7:00 and headed home. We were exhausted from our early morning wake up call and being in the sun all day. Hopefully we can go again this winter when it's decorated for Christmas!! 

On Sunday, I got up early to head to the store so I could make bacon wrapped dates and the corn dip to take to the Wooster's house. We went to their house to watch the Chargers game and to eat some delicious Mexican food. Yum! I was too invested in my book (yes, I was reading during a football game) to take pictures... whoops! The night ended with us dropping Lauren and Chase off at the airport and then sushi for dinner. Yum! We also watched Big Brother. It's so close to the season finale now! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! This is a 4-day work week for me and then we are heading to Half Moon Bay. Yippee! Have a great Monday!