We’re Moving to Toronto!

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It’s official – Andrew and I are moving to Toronto! After 6 months of waiting, we finally got our work visas. Considering that we have only been in the same city a total of 8 weeks since getting married in September (Andrew living and working in Toronto, me living in New Orleans, working in Los Angeles, and visiting Toronto), this is exciting for a lot of reasons! Mainly, we are finally going to be able to answer the question “what’s married life like?”!!Canadian Visa

We spent an entire weekend searching for apartments, trying to find the right fit for us. We want to give this whole big city lifestyle a try, although I started to hyperventilate a bit when I saw how small these kitchens are…But we found this place downtown, that makes me feel so urban and cool! So okay, maybe I can slim down my kitchen equipment, part with my popcorn maker, Panini press , toaster…in exchange for floor to ceiling windows and living in the middle of the action!Toronto Apartment

This past month, New Orleans was absolutely electric in anticipation of Mardi Gras!! You could feel the excitement in the air. I was like a little kid cheering and catching candy from the 4th of July floats, only this time I had a margarita in one hand while trying to catch beads with the other :)Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street

I LOVED the marching bands and the illuminated floats in the night parades.

Mardi Gras Parade Float

Needless to say, February has been an action-packed month!! We are busy getting ready for the move across the border and trying to soak in as much of New Orleans as possible these last few days!

Favorite meal cooked in February: Turkey Chili – an old recipe that hit the spot in Toronto’s frigid temps (and it’s SO easy and SO healthy)

Favorite cocktail in February: I can’t get enough of these Blood Orange Margaritas!Blood Orange Margaritas

Laughed the hardest in February: playing Fishbowl with friends, but this time with a twist! We added two new rounds that had me on the ground dying laughing. See the original rules here, to which we added a 4th round, where the person has to act out a word under a bed sheet, and a 5th round, where the person can only use sound effects to get their team to guess the word.Fishbowl Game

Blood Orange Margaritas

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Blood oranges are currently in season so I’ve been doing a little experimenting…and I have found my new favorite cocktail!! I can’t believe it, but I love these even more than my favorite basic fresh margarita!  Blood oranges are so sweet and delicious right now – and so pretty.Blood Oranges

You’ll want to make sure you have a good juicer, like this one, to juice your oranges (and limes). Andrew and I are crazy about this industrial juicer a friend gave us for our wedding – we take our cocktail making seriously :) I’m also enjoying this little mini measuring cup to measure ounces.Blood Orange Margaritas

I can’t tell you how delicious these are!! You just have to try one. I made these for my Valentine on Saturday – they are the perfect pink color.Blood Orange MargaritasBlood Orange Margarita

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce Triple Sec (or other orange liqueur such as Cointreau)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces blood orange juice
  • ice (I think crushed ice is best)
  • Kosher salt for rim of glass

Directions:

Salt the rim of your glass using the pictured instructions in this post. Make sure to do this before adding ice to the glass, otherwise the water from the ice will cause the salt to clump.

In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, and blood orange juice. Add a large handful of ice and shake for a good 30 seconds to make sure it’s chilled and refreshing!

Pour into the glass, add more ice if needed, and garnish with a thin slice of blood orange if you want to be fancy. Serve immediately. (If you want to make these ahead of time, store in the fridge without any ice. Add ice when serving.)

**If you are using a shot glass or want to scale this recipe, just make sure you use 2 parts tequila, 1 part Triple Sec, 1 part lime juice, and 2 parts blood orange juice.

January Review

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After a white Christmas with my family in northern Wisconsin, full of lots of fun in the snow…

Andrew, my sister, and I flew down to New Orleans to ring in the new year. We had a blast on Bourbon Street – which I’ve never seen so packed! (Although that statement may change in a few weeks when I get to experience a little party they call Mardi Gras.) Bourbon Street on New Years EveAndrew would be upset if I failed to mention that we celebrated The Ohio State winning the Sugar Bowl January 1s…which our friend Ty claimed as “the best day of his entire life”. He’s a passionate fan…Sugar Bowl 2015After being on the road for most of December, it was great to be home in NOLA for two weeks. I love nothing more than spending an afternoon riding my bike around the French Quarter and stopping to listen to all of the different street musicians.French Quarter Music Then, I was off to visit Andrew in Toronto for a week, where I realize now that I didn’t take a single picture to share. Probably because it was too dang cold to get my phone out! This is me, severely over-dressed for the New Orleans airport, but somehow still unprepared for stepping off the plane onto the Toronto runway.

Winter Clothes

While I was up there, Andrew lost his wedding ring at the gym – I guess I should have let him get the $9.99 ring from the Wet’n’Wild Orlando water park that he wanted! 4 months ago there were three wedding rings, and now there are two…that was short-lived! Wedding RingsFrom Toronto, I went to Tampa, Florida for a few work days, then ended the month here in LA for work and stayed to spend time in my old neighborhood, Manhattan Beach, with some of my best girlfriends.Hermosa Beach

In the month of January…

Favorite meal I cooked: these Pulled Pork Tacos with Sweet Chili Slaw were incredibly delicious

Favorite movie I watched: Chef was a great feel-good kind of movie about a guy starting up a food truck

Song I’ve had on repeat: Vance Joy – Riptide

If you like that song, then here’s his other song I love – Mess Is Mine 

January was a great start to the year…and can’t believe that it’s somehow February already!! Time for the month of LOVE! Here’s a cute idea for Valentine’s that I made a few years ago :)

Stocking Stuffer Gifts 2014

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Christmas is almost here! I can’t even believe it! I’ve had Pentatonix on repeat this weekend, which is totally getting me into the holiday spirit. I’m currently home for 5 days between Thanksgiving and New Years, so I’m soaking in the decorating Andrew and I did back in the beginning of November.Christmas Decorations

A few years ago, I started making Christmas stockings for my mom, dad, and Andrew because I have so much fun finding little gifts to put inside. Here are some of my favorite things from this year that I would love to find in a stocking:

Teeny Bud Vase: I am in love with these adorable little vases! They are so cute with a single stem flower. I think the teardrop shape of this one in particular is so beautiful. Whenever I come home to visit, my mom always has a little vase like this with a few flowers in it on my bedside table – it’s really sweet! I currently have one for each bedside table in our apartment, but I want to get more to use for setting our kitchen table.Teeny Bud VaseLuggage Scale: This little gadget has been my best friend for all of the travel I’ve been doing over the last year – it prevents that awful scene at the airport of pulling things out of your suitcase at the check-in counter to get under 50 pounds. With this, you can weigh your suitcase at home and make sure you are under the limit. I have gotten a lot of comments by the check-in agents about hitting the 50lb weight limit exactly – little do they know that’s exactly what I planned for!

Luggage Scale - Stocking StufferNon-stick Baking Mats and Maldon Sea Salt Flakes: We just recently got these baking slip sheets and I have loved  making cookies with them – no sticking and such a breeze to wipe down after. And if you are going to be baking cookies, then you need a little sea salt to sprinkle on top. Maldon is a “finishing salt” for sprinkling on cookies right after baking. The salt crystals will stay flakey and crisp without melting into the cookie. It also works deliciously well for sprinkling on roasted vegetables or meat right before serving. Maldon is flakier than kosher salt (which is best sprinkled on vegetables and meat before cooking. Or rimming a margarita glass, of course :)

Baking Slip Sheet and Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – This is my favorite book that I’ve read this year! It was SO entertaining! Bernadette is a mom to a 15-year-old daughter and wife to a Microsoft guru and has developed such distaste of Seattle that she disappears. The commentary on her life in Seattle was hysterical to me, even though I’ve never been to the city. I tried explaining the plot to my dad and it didn’t really excite him – but to be fair, he’s not the target audience. So for the men in your life, try Unbroken. It’s an incredible story and the movie is about to come out! But all you ladies: please read about Bernadette!Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Silicone Spatula – I use a silicone spatula just about every day. When I learned to use one of these to make scrambled eggs, it was a game changer. I swear. So much easier to scoop the eggs around in the pan. It’s also great for sautéing veggies, making stir fries, stirring dough, just about everything! Everyone should have one of these in their kitchen. Get It Right spatulas are made of silicone so won’t melt if you accidently leave it in the pan while cooking. They are strong and made of one piece so they won’t break with a tough dough. Plus, they come in a ton of fun colors!Get It Right Spatula

Do you need an idea for a white elephant gift? How about this inflatable moose head?? I think he is hysterical! Andrew and I got one for our apartment after we saw our friend Ty hang this moose up with his Christmas decorations. I seriously smile every time I look up at him. We got one for my mom and I think she did a great job accessorizing her moose for Christmas:Inflatable Moose Head

I hope this list gives you some ideas for how to stuff your own stockings this year! You can also see my lists from Stocking Stuffers 2013 and Stocking Stuffers 2012 for more ideas. Happy holidays!!

Wedding Invitation Ornament

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I am crazy about these ornaments! I started making them this year for my just-married friends and they’ve been a big hit! I think it’s such a special way to re-purpose a beautiful wedding invitation so that it gets brought out for decoration every year around the holidays.Wedding Invitation Ornament

These ornaments are actually pretty easy to do. Start by cutting the invitation into thins strips, trying to capture the wording as best you can. The thinner strips will curl better, so sometimes larger names on an invitation can be hard. This is where you can get creative by cutting strips out of any paper from the wedding such as the ceremony program, a shower invite, save the date card, envelope lining, or whatever else would look pretty!Wedding Invitation Ornament

Then, wrap each of the strips very tightly around a pen or pencil and hold for a few seconds. Once it slides off the pen, the paper should maintain its curl. Depending on the cardstock, some invitations will hold the curl better than others.Wedding Invitation Ornament

Slide all of the curls into the top of the ornament (I ordered from amazon), making sure to first include the strips with the most important wording like the couple’s names, location, date, etc. When the ball is full, put the top back on and tie a ribbon around it. To make it a little easier to keep the ribbon in place, you can use a drop of glue and let it dry before you tie the knot.You may want to wait until after the wedding to make the ornament so that you can match the ribbon to the colors of their day.Wedding Invitation OrnamentAnd it’s as simple as that!Wedding Invitation Ornament

Have you saved anyone’s wedding invites from this year? Or possibly your own?? I think this makes a great Christmas or anniversary gift! I can’t wait to do it with our own wedding invite and make separate ornaments with the invites from the beautiful showers our friends threw for us!Wedding Invitation Ornament

Wedding Highlight Video

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Andrew and I have been reliving our wedding day all weekend by re-watching this video! We are SO excited with how it turned out! It perfectly captures all of the details that made our wedding day so special to us. I haven’t yet watched it without tears in my eyes. We both lose it watching my dad and I see each other for the first time. Andrew and I’s first dance was one of our favorite parts of the whole day – so we love getting to see it in the video! Watch how the bridesmaids dip when Andrew dips me – it’s so cute! It was also really fun for me to see the boys getting ready since I obviously wasn’t there. I could go on and on about how amazing this is!! (You can go here to watch it in full screen.)

When I watch this video, all of the emotions I felt on wedding day come right back to me. It’s so incredibly sweet and captures the day exactly how I remember it. Thank you Mark and Chris at Simply Love Films for such an amazing video, better than I could have ever imagined! We can’t wait to see the extended version :)

Moscow Mules

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Have you heard of this drink? I LOVE a good Moscow Mule, any day of year! So does my family now – I’ve got them hooked! It is an incredibly refreshing vodka cocktail with a kick of ginger and hint of lime. These are so easy to make at home with the right recipe and ingredients. Why not mix up something a little different for your next cocktail hour? I know we will definitely be making these at Thanksgiving in a few weeks :)Moscow Mule / www.sarasfavoritethings.com

Ginger beer is a less sugary version of ginger ale and it is not interchangeable here. Over the last year, we have tried several different ginger beers and have found that Gosling’s is the best. There are some really bad ginger beers out there and because there are only 3 ingredients in this cocktail, it’s important that the ginger beer is good!Gosling's Ginger Beer

At our wedding, Andrew and I served our two favorite specialty cocktails. One was our all-time favorite: a freshly made margarita. We named it the “Maze-a-rita”, for my new last name – Maze! The other cocktail we served was this Moscow Mule, which we renamed the “Milwaukee Mule” that night.Moscow Mule

Wondering why drink a Moscow mule out of a copper mug? Mainly, because they are fun! But I have read that the copper keeps the drink cooler and enhances the flavors. Copper mugs can be found all over these days. I like these smooth mugs and this hammered finish. Are you looking for a fun hostess, wedding or Christmas gift? Put together a Moscow Mule basket with copper mugs, vodka, ginger beer, and maybe a lime juicer! Turns out I am behind the times here because Oprah had this Moscow Mule kit as one of her favorite things in 2012.Moscow Mule

Moscow Mules

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 shots vodka (2 shots if you like a strong drink!)
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (about ½ a shot)
  • ½ cup ginger beer* (1 can makes 3 cocktails)
  • ice

Directions:

In a glass or copper mug, combine the vodka and lime juice first, and then pour in the ginger beer. Add a big handful of ice and stir. Serve right away.

*If using copper mugs, stick them in the freezer an hour before serving so that they are frosted.

*I’ve tried several different ginger beers and some of them have been awful (don’t buy Reed’s)! The Gosling’s brand is my favorite and the most widely available. Depending on what city you are in, you might be able to find a great local or craft ginger beer. Because there are only 3 ingredients in this drink, a bad ginger beer will make a bad cocktail.

Cheers!!