{Design} Big Built-In Bar Envy

TGIF. Seriously. I didn't know if I was going to make it to today.  Ok, maybe that's a tad dramatic, but I know I'm not the only one who feels like this!  It might only be the morning here, but I am looking forward to having a drink this evening.  While bar carts might be having their moment, I really like the idea of something more built in.  We have a smaller bar area right now & it just feels SO crowded. I realize, that sounds kinda bad like we have too much alcohol, but really I'll just blame the space being so tight.  So, to tease myself, I'm sharing some seriously cool in-home bars today.  I can't wait to have a legit bar in my future house! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


{Recipe} Steakhouse Filet Mignon with Herb Butter

Like many cities, we have multiple grocery stores in our area.  I usually stick to the middle of the road grocery store when doing my shopping, except when it comes to buying fish. I just feel better about buying fish from a higher quality store.  Does it make a difference? I dunno. But I feel better about it.  So, where am I going with this? Recently I made a Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon (coming soon!) & while I was at the fish counter, my eye caught a sign for filet mignon.  I've never made filet before so I figured while I was picking up salmon, I could pick up some steaks too. We were going to eat WELL that week!

There are so many different ways to prepare a filet, but for my first time, I wanted to keep it simple.  Any time we go to a steak house, I always get a petit filet because it's so tender & so lean. Wanting to duplicate a steakhouse filet, I did a quick search & found this recipe claiming to be the BEST way to cook a steak.  Obviously I was intrigued. At home, the only way we ever had steak was grilling it.  The trick is to cook the meat primarily stove top in a cast iron skillet & then move it to the oven in the same skillet. After trying the steak, I'm going to say something that might be wildly unpopular, but steak should not be grilled. It just shouldn't.  I kept the recipe super simple & it was the way to go.  I mean, this is how a filet should be made; no crazy crusts, no crazy sauces. Just a little bit of herb butter & all the flavors of the meat.

A word of advice, it is really important to pay attention to cook times.  The meat will continue to cook a bit once removed from the heat, which J warned me about but I just didn't listen.  Make sure you remove the steak a minute or two before you think it's actually ready. Our meat was just a tiny bit well done, but it was still SO good.  I will definitely be making this again!

Serves: 2
Cook time: About 30 mins
How difficult was this for me? Not too bad! The butter was probably the hardest part!

2 8 ounce filet's
4 tsp Kosher salt
4 tsp freshly cracked pepper (I reduced the amount on my filet)
1 stick of REAL butter, no substitutions, dived into halves
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp lemon zest


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Now time to make the butter. This is the hardest part.  Using a piece of foil (if you don't have a butter holder) mold it around the stick of butter while leaving one long side open.  Then remove the stick.  I  You are going to melt the butter, then you need to put it in something to turn it back into a stick.

Take 1/2 stick of butter & soften in the microwave.  You only want to soften it, not completely melt it. I nuked it for about 20 seconds.  Mix as gently as you can with the garlic, parsley, thyme & lemon zest. 

Place mixture back into your tinfoil-butter-holder-container & fridge for 20-30 mins.

Generously season both sides of the filets with salt & pepper.

In a large skillet, melt remaining butter & mix with olive oil in a cast iron skillet until it is screaming hot.

Place the filets in the skillet & sear each side for 2-3 minutes until a nice brown crust is formed.

While the meat is searing, continue to spoon the residual butter from the skillet on top of the meat.

Once both sides are seared, remove the skillet from the stove & place in the center of the oven for about 6-8 mins.

While the steak is cooking, remove butter from fridge & slice a nice piece to place on top of the filet.

Your steak will be ready when the center is 135 degrees. If you're like me & you don't have a thermometer, gently push down on the center of the steak. When it is done, it will slowly bounce back up.  You can also just slice into it.  Remember, it will continue to cook for a minute or two after you remove from the oven.

Slop on the butter & enjoy!

Adapted from Whit's Amuse Bouche


{Design} My Favorite Bookends

After attending the LA Festival of Books this past weekend (catch up here) I've been in a book mood. I absolutely love books - but I'm not just talking about reading. I'm talking actual, physical books.  I love the look of a bookshelf (or in my case, shelves) filled with books I've read or books I've been wanting to read.  I love the feeling of turning a page in a book & seeing how far I've read that particular day.  Unlike most bookworms I know, I don't own any sort of e-reader. There's just a satisfaction I get with reading an actual book that I just cannot put into words.   I also stare at a screen all day & my eyes need a break sometimes.  Yes, I know there are all sorts of benefits to an e-reader & yes, my shelves are overflowing with books, but that still doesn't change how I feel. I've also never been one for audio books. GASP! Don't get me wrong, I love the idea. I just get real sleepy when I listen to books.  Given all these factors & that we have so many books, I'm always on the hunt for fun bookends. People often neglect to use bookends & I think that's a big mistake. Big. Huge. (Get the reference?)  Adding a fun bookend gives your shelf just a touch more personality.  So today, I'm rounding up my favorite bookends to share with you.  There's a chance I may own more than half of the below.  I've also found some really cool bookends off ebay (those vintage brass pineapples!) & at HomeGoods if you're looking for a deal!

one / two / three / four / five / six / seven (similar) / eight / nine / ten / eleven


{Books} LA Times Festival of Books

In the beginning of 2017 I made a simple goal for the year: Do more shit.  With this in mind, I've been searching for fun & relatively inexpensive things to do in LA this summer.  While reading an article about the best festivals in California, one in particular caught me eye; The LA Times Festival of Books. Festival...OF BOOKS.  I wasn't entirely sure what exactly this festival of books was, or what it was going to cost (free!), but it didn't matter. I was going.

After doing a bit more reading, I began to fall in love with the idea & what it stands for.  According to their official website, "The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books began in 1996 with one simple purpose: To bring together the people who create books with the people who love to read them." Swoon.

Located on the USC campus, it was a 2 day event filled with poets, writers, artists, musicians vendors, food & book signings (complete list here)  After spending only a few hours scouring the booths with one of my fellow bookworms, I understand why it is considered the largest festival of it's kind in the country. Over 150K people attend the festival each year!  We definitely got lost a few times & I'm still not 100% certain we made it to all the booths...but overall, I think we did pretty damn good.

Little Free Library! One day I will have one of these in front of my house.
My favorite part of this whole day, besides scoring some awesome loot, was learning about the many independent book stores located all over our large city.  So often I rely on ordering books off Amazon or B&N, but after browsing so many different indy book store booths, I will be making a renewed effort to spend more time at these little gems.

There was also some really fun book related goodies. These items in particular gave me a good laugh.

Well ain't that the truth.

Someone should probably correct my grammar on my blog posts.

Props to Hulu for this one...

Sadly, I had to keep my spending in check, but I am really excited about the books I got.  I'm also pretty obsessed with these postcards. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but they were too awesome to pass up.

The LA Times considers this event their "Gift to the city of LA" & well, I gladly accepted it. All around it was such a fun day & I'm already going to start saving my pennies for next year! (Note to self for next year: pay attention to just how hot it's going to be & plan accordingly)


{Recipe} Better than the Box Fudge Brownies

It's Monday & I think we could all use a little treat. I need to use some profanity but I won't apologize because holy shit these brownies were SO FUCKING GOOD. I mean, I will never make brownies from the box again, ever.  When it comes to dessert, my go-to is always chocolate. It's the first thing I crave when I want something sweet & one of the few foods I will NEVER say no to.

But, I do have one rule: no nuts.  I cannot STAND nuts in my chocolate, so if you're ever looking for a chocolate recipe with nuts, you're reading the wrong blog.  I wish I could say making these brownies was an easy task, but if I did, I'd be lying. Had I read the directions correctly, sure, it's pretty straightforward. But because it's me, I made the entire the batch & as I went to lick the spoon, I got a mouthful of the most bitter batter that existed. I guess that's what brownie batter tastes like when you forget to add the sugar.  By this point, it was too late to add it in, so I had to start over.  So please follow my directions so this doesn't happen to you!

this is where batch #1 ended up

Makes: 16 Brownies
Prep & Bake time: 1 hour
How difficult was this for me? If I actually read the directions in order, not bad!

3/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted & divided (1/3 cup + 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup flour
2 cups chocolate chips (if you use chocolate chunks like I did, 1.5 cups is enough)


Preheat oven to 350 F & grease a 9x13 baking dish (I used pyrex. if you use metal, you need to reduce the cooking time) 

Now would also be a good time to start boiling the water

In a large mixing bowl, stir together cocoa & baking powder

Stir in 1/3 cup of melted butter until smooth

Stir in boiling water until mixture is smooth & thick

Stir in sugar, eggs & the remaining 1/3 cup of melted butter.

Stir in vanilla & salt until smooth.

Dump in the flour & chocolate chips at the same time. Stir until just combined. Try not to over stir it.

Spread batter into prepared baking dish & bake for 30-30 mins.  After 30 mins, ours were done.

Let brownies cool completely in pan before removing


Adapted from Sweet Anna's