Next weekend marks my first family reunion. My family has never done the reunion thing, but Chris's fam loves their big get-togethers. In fact, my first time meeting his immediate family, I had the overwhelming pleasure of meeting one entire side of the family at his Great Aunt Edith's birthday celebration.
Things have gotten a lot more comfortable since that bday bash, but I'm still not sure what to expect from a weekend on the Wig family farm. I asked Chris if we get t-shirts. You know, the "I survived the Rodriguez family reunion 2011" kind. He laughed. Apparently we don't...
And, my girlfriend, Amber's famous Marshmallow Brownies.
I'm most excited to share one of my favourite family recipes, Banana Oat Squares. I am brought back to my wonderful, warm childhood when I bake, smell and eat these soft squares. This is an ancient Company's Coming recipe, but it's stuck so far back in the 80s, their website recipe search turns up empty. Luckily, my mom passed on a written copy.
Banana Oat Squares
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 mashed bananas
2 cups oats
1/2 cup of chocolate chips, blueberries, chopped walnuts or coconut
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer. Add the egg and beat well. Add the salt and bananas and mix. Stir in the oats and extras. I chopped up dark chocolate squares and grated cinnamon in my last batch.
Spread the batter into a greased 8x8 inch pan and bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, cut into squares, impress your in-laws. ;)
It's a lovely day to announce that Alexandra's Joys is getting a makeover! I've got my blog groove, but the standard pre-set template needs some love. I've teamed up with designer and fellow bloggette, Joy Kelley of How Joyful, who's going to create the design for me.
The process is fun and I've been compiling inspiration so Joy can understand the aesthetic and format I'm drawn to and what best represents my lifestyle. Making an inspiration board or collection is the best way to start any creative project. You should see what went into my wedding planning. I took ideas from blogs, websites, books, magazines, and photo shoots. If only I'd known about Pinterest...
If you love searching the web for beautiful, inspiring photos, you MUST get Pinterest. I can't stay away. It's a virtual pinboard that allows for easy searching, storing and sharing of amazing and inspirational photos. They just launched an iPhone app too. I'm obsessed.
Here is a sneak peek at the inspiration I've gathered for my blog re-vamp...
To be honest, my work schedule is tough and work-life balance sometimes seems to be a thing of the past. But after our time in California, I came home refreshed and motivated to make a few improvements in my life. You can't let a crazy schedule decide what you do and don't do outside of work. I've never been one to embrace New Year's resolutions, but as we move into a new season, I could use a few summer resolutions. Here's what I'm thinking...
~ Start running outside regularly
~ Decorate our little balcony and enjoy meals outside
~ Relax with manicures, pedicures and massages
~ Learn to re-finish a piece of furniture
~ BBQ, make ice cream, drink lemonade
~ Take a photography class
~ Enjoy the outdoors... picnics, tennis and golf
~ Host a much overdue housewarming party
~ Participate in city events and festivals
Summer is my all time favourite season and I want to make the most of the sunny months. Whatever life is like for you right now, I hope you're inspired to make a few of your own resolutions. What are your summer plans?
While in California, I attended a surprise bridal shower for my bestie, Mindy. I met some lovely Cali gals and we enjoyed champagne, gifts and celebrating. We also took time to share encrouagement about marriage with the bride-to-be. It was touching to hear the struggles, successes and advice about marriage from a group of amazing girls. The evening was meaningful and a huge encouragement in my own relationship.
A gift for a best friend is always easy and I have a soft spot for great coffee table books, so I picked up this gem from work, Modern Vintage Style by Emily Chalmers.
Drawing on inspiration from the book, I made a set of vintage fabric napkins as an accompaniment to the gift. They were so easy! A little cutting, ironing, sewing and stitching.
I love blessing a bride with gifts for her home. Settling into our house has been a huge part of this first year for us and I've learned the importance of feeling comfortable in a home together. That, and about a billion other little lessons.
PS... How amazing would these napkins be for a wedding reception? Email me! I'm sure Chris won't mind the sewing machine living on the kitchen table for a few months...
We left the sun and came home to rain. But even cloudy weather can't get me down after an amazing trip to California. It was short but sweet, filled with friends, fun and food. Actually, it was filled with lot's of food. Lot's of really good food.
We hung out on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a cool stretch of boutiques and restaurants near Venice Beach. We ate outside at Gjelina, a rustic Mediterranean bistro. It was slamming busy, which is always a good sign. It was well worth the wait.
I had a homemade Ginger-Lime Italian soda and this Lamb Sausage, Conﬁt Tomato, Rapini, Pecorino and Asiago pizza.
We headed down the street for a cappuccino from Intelligentsia, which has become our favourite L.A. coffee bar. You can buy the coffee here in Calgary at deVille downtown, but nothing beats sipping in the California sun, wondering if the crazy looking writer next to you might be working on the next big script.
We also snacked on less than trendy fare during our visit, such as the famous California fast food spot, In-N-Out Burger. We ate cheese burgers, fries and chocolate milkshakes while everyone around us complained about the Lakers loss that night.
The most outrageously expensive meal we managed to eat, came in the form of a hot dog and a Corona. We scored some amazing seats to an L.A. Dodgers game and although I am not an advocate for fake nacho cheese, somehow it just seems right at Dodger Stadium. Like good fans, we downed Dodger dogs, nachos, beer, soda, garlic fries and pretzels.
Cube Cafe is a cute bistro on La Brea that's all about cheese. We were double date style, so we shared the most amazing charcuterie plate to start and rounded things off with a Prosciutto, Buffalo Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomato and Basil Pesto panini, with Wisconsin Cheddar & Moretti Beer soup.
It was a hot week, so one afternoon while shopping in West Hollywood we cooled off with some delicious frozen yogurt from Pinkberry. I had Lychee frozen yogurt with mango, pineapple, coconut and fresh lime.
More delicious food was enjoyed on our last morning in L.A. We brunched at BLD (it stands for breakfast, lunch and dinner!) on Beverly Boulevard. I had Flatiron Steak Eggs Benedict with Cabernet Sauvignon Hollandaise, but I was totally having order envy over Chris's Bacon, Cream Cheese and Berry Compote baked french toast. Check out the maple syrup house!
For me, great trips, events and gatherings are often marked by wonderful food. We had a blast eating with good friends, visiting some old favourites and discovering some new spots. Can't wait to go back.
I wish to brighten your day with a little inspiration. Inspiration to try something new. Inspiration to find joy in cooking and crafting, entertaining and styling, writing and sharing. I’m Alexandra Joy and I have many joys to share.