It's what I'm looking for now. But life is just not so simple. Making decisions that could alter the course of your life, trying to decide which path to take, it's all such a challenge. Especially when you don't really like any of the paths. And trying to create a new more desirable path isn't easy either, especially when you're not sure how.

What lies ahead...

Yes, this is how the path is looking right now.

There is beauty along that path. I'm just having trouble finding time to enjoy it.

Magnolia love

And when I do find the time, my mind is preoccupied with... everything.

Looking up

I'd love to have a few moments to just gaze at my surroundings in awe, like a child without a care in the world.


Enjoy the sun as it peeks through the clouds and shines on my face...

Light shines on

I'm looking to keep the thoughts in my mind to a minimum. To just have some peace and quiet in there, even if just for a day.

Fading tulip

(I'm linking up with Focus52. The prompt this week is Minimal, which Janice ties in with keeping things simple. It's definitely what I'm looking for in my life right now.)



365 + 1, Week ten and eleven, not quite heaven

I started out Week Ten pretty nicely, with a good run and my usual spin classes.

Activity Week 10

I went to my first book signing to check out Joy the Baker, who I've been following since I started this blog. She's a sweetie, and looking through her book made me very hungry... for a burger.

Food Week 10

Rounded out Week Ten in Napa with my family. Bouchon was no French Laundry, but it was still delicious. Apparently, I found out later, Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain had been there earlier in the day. Just missed 'em!

Week Eleven was so so so busy at work. And it rained, a lot. (My garden is thankful!) Anyhow, activity took a hit.

Activity Week 11

I actually did manage to cook most of the days. Lots of roasted veggies and proteins, as I'm trying to cut back on the carbs. I obviously caved in yesterday. Whatevs. (I may have gotten that from Joy the Baker.)

Food Week 11

I have to say, looking at these photos, how absolutely amazingly grateful I am for the food that graces my plate. Even with the stresses of life, life is good.



Kabocha Squash Cupcakes

Kabocha squash is probably my favorite squash of all. It's petite. It's easy to cook. It has a brilliant orange color. When I had the kabocha squash cake at Morimoto in Napa, I knew I had to make one. Basically, any recipe with pumpkin, you can replace with kabocha squash. I made a cupcake out of it for a little baking contest, and it was moist and delicious. While I didn't win any contests, I wouldn't hesitate to enter it again. (Although next time, I would give myself more time to make them more presentable!)

I used a cupcake recipe from Sprinkle Bakes. The cinnamon frosting that goes with this recipe is quite tasty too, but use this marscapone one I came up with if the thought of three sticks of butter kills you, cuz it will.

Kabocha Squash Brown Butter Mini Cupcakes with Maple Marscapone Frosting
Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes

3/4 cup unsalted butter 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
3 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1 tsp. ground ginger 
1 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. allspice 
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
1 1/2 cups kabocha squash puree (see below) 
3 large eggs 
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line mini cupcake tins with papers.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns golden brown. Pour the browned butter into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not solidified.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and allspice.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk squash puree with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and yogurt until well combined.  Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  Whisk in the browned butter until well blended. 
  5. Divide batter between cupcake liners.  Fill them about half full.
  6. Bake cupcakes for 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Marscapone Frosting:
8 oz marscapone cheese
3 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup powdered sugar

The key I realized to making this frosting is to let all ingredients come to room temperature. Once the cheese and butter are nice and soft, mix with syrup using a hand mixer. Once smooth, slowly add the sugar while continuing to mix. Add to pastry bag, using your favorite piping tip.

Making Kabocha Squash Puree:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Rub one kabocha squash with olive oil and place in oven
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cool
  4. Once cool, cut in half. Scoop out seeds. Slice each squash half into quarters.
  5. Return to oven for another 15 minutes. 
  6. Remove from oven and slice out meat with spoon. The skin is edible, so you don't have to peel it all off if you want to take a lazy route. And the fact that you're making your own squash puree proves you ain't lazy!
  7. Puree squash in food processor. It is quite thick, so periodically adding a tablespoon of maple syrup will help to loosen it up.
Kabocha Squash Cupcakes


365 + 1, Week nine, it went fine!

So I finally got the real bike out and took it for a 25 mile ride. Yay me! There was definitely better photo opportunities on the real bike. I am totally running out of ideas for taking photos of my spinning.

Activity Week Nine

This week's dining extravaganzas included a meet and greet with the chef from RN74, Jason Berthold. He made us a golden beet and asparagus salad along with some other goodies (day 59).

Food Week Nine

Isn't he a cutie too?

Jason Berthold (left) and his sous chefs


Weekending and a sweet recipe

What a lovely weekend I'm having! After much needed rain on Thursday, it's been sunny and gorgeous since.

Friday night, I headed up to the city with two of my best girlfriends to watch Mamma Mia at the Orpheum. The musical was meh, but catching up with my friends is always wonderful.

The Orpheum
The ceiling at the Orpheum Theater

Today I headed up to Oakland for brunch with college friends. Yum yum and yum! I made a quick and easy dessert, mini salted caramel dark chocolate tartelettes. I had pinned this recipe 11 weeks ago (lovely how Pinterest keeps track of that), and I finally made it. I didn't have time to make pie dough, so I used one from the store.

Mini Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Tartelettes
(adapted from Salty Pineapple)

Pie dough 
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
4 oz dark chocolate of your choice (I used Moonstruck's Dark Chocolate Espresso Bean bars)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. If you are using store bought pie crust, let it come to room temperature and then roll it out to about 1/8" thickness. Cut out 2" rounds. 
3. Press dough into mini muffin tins, poking the bottom a few times with a fork.
4. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, between 5-10 minutes. Set out to cool.
5. While baking, prepare caramel. Cook sugar, water, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the pan periodically as it cooks. 
6. Remove from heat once caramelized and slowly add 1 cup cream to the mixture. Let cool.
7. While everything's cooling, prepare the chocolate by setting a bowl over a pot of boiling water. Add the chocolate to the bowl and stir as it starts to melt. Add 1/2 cup cream to the chocolate and mix well.
8. Spoon caramel about halfway up the pie cups, and then top with chocolate. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top. 



Happy there's still one more day to the weekend left! I love weekending!


February Mood Board

February over! And an extra day too, what did I do with it? I did try to enjoy the offerings from my garden, which included a little bit of lettuce and some lovely flowers! Spring is definitely coming, as the trees are starting to flower and bulbs are coming up. I bought some lovely ranunculus and planted them this past weekend. I couldn't resist cutting the blooms (only two so far) for my house.

Pinks and whites are filling my garden, I love it! March is going to be beautiful!

And for Karin A, here's my mood board, saying farewell to February and looking forward to what March will bring!

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