Thankful. And a recipe.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm going to be spending time with family for the long weekend so you won't see me here sharing any Black Friday sales or holiday shopping lists. But I did want to stop in today to tell you all how unbelievably thankful I am to have each and every one of you. Thank you for stopping by and reading, commenting, and sharing your own stories with me. I'm so lucky to have this creative outlet and community. I'm truly thankful for each and every one of you. As a teeny tiny thank you I've shared my favorite Thanksgiving dessert recipe below. It requires about 15 minutes of prep work, and hour of baking, and some patience in cooling, but is an amazing staple of mine during the holidays. Give it a try and let me know what you think. And have a truly wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!


When I learned to make cheesecake a few years ago, this is the recipe that I first used. I have it memorized now and can play around a ton with flavors to get exactly what I'm looking for. (My all-time favorite was a pear cheesecake with a nilla wafer crust and caramel sauce!) Two things I do differently from this recipe? I always add 1/4c of sour cream, and I always bake in a water bath. I snapped a few pictures while whipping up a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving and thought I'd share my recipe & process!

Ingredients for Crust: 
ginger snaps (about 20-25 cookies)
butter (one stick, melted)

Ingredients for Filling: 
cream cheese (3 8-ounce boxes)
 pureed pumpkin (1 can)
eggs (3 whole)
sour cream (1/4c)
white sugar (1.5c)
pumpkin pie spice (~1Tbsp)
vanilla (1tsp)
flour (2Tbsp)

Now for the (super simple) process. First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place cookies in large zip lock and pound/roll/crush with rolling pin until coarsely chopped. Melt butter in microwave. 

Mix butter and cookie crumbs together and flatten in bottom of 9" springform pan. Set aside.

In bowl of mixer, start beating cream cheese until smooth. Add in pumpkin puree and eggs. Continue to beat.  

Add sour cream and flour. Note: I add flour when making pumpkin cheesecake only because the pumpkin puree is a bit runny sometimes. If your puree is thicker, no need to add flour. Continue to beat.

Add sugar and vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. And yep, you guessed it: keep beating. 

Once all ingredients are completely mixed (scrape the sides of the bowl a few times with a spatula to ensure you don't have any cream cheese left behind), pour onto crust in 9" springform pan. 

Now here's the key: get your waterbath ready. I take two pieces of foil, fold them over in the middle to ensure they are well-connected, wrap that around my cheesecake, and place the whole thing on a rimmed cookie sheet. Once it is in the oven, I pour in as much water as I can without overflowing. This is key to keeping the cheesecake consistency and to avoiding cracks!

Bake for one hour. Remove and set on counter for no more than 15 minutes. At that time, remove the foil, take a knife and run it inside springform pan to ensure sides of cheesecake are not stuck to the sides of the pan. (This will also help with cracks!) Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight (or at least 5 hours if you're in a hurry).

To serve, remove sides of springform pan and cut away. I like to serve my pumpkin cheesecake with some bourbon whipped cream (whip 1c heavy whipping cream, 2Tbsp bourbon, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla until ridges form). 

One Year Ago

November 26, 2013 was a life-changing day for me. As I sit here, one year later, with so many exciting plans ahead of me, I can't believe it has already been a year since I said yes. It honestly feels like yesterday that Travis proposed on that tiny little beach in Hawaii with the most perfect ring in the world. I thought it'd be fun to share our proposal story in a way I haven't before - from both of our perspectives. When building our wedding website, we both took some time to jot down what we remembered. Enjoy :)

How Travis remembers it...
I hid the ring for three months and I am sure that she searched for it. Not a week went by without her reminding me that I went fishing almost three months ago and still no ring. The waiting was killing her. I loved it. Patience is a virtue. I had decided on using Hawaii as a backdrop a few weeks before the trip and after one last campaign of subterfuge I was fairly confident that she did not think it was going to happen. I hid the ring in my carry on and then promptly lost my ID when going through security. I left my bag with Bri and raced back to find the ID. She searched my bag and found nothing, I got my ID, and we continued on to paradise. After getting the lay of the land I found the perfect spot.  A beach no bigger than our backyard just a few minutes away from the house. After some serious cajoling I got her to go swimming in the ocean. I put the ring in my backpack with some towels and we headed to Baby Beach. It was empty, I had a beach to myself on Kauai to ask the girl of my dreams to marry me. I did not want to swim and leave the pack for long. After maybe two minutes in the Pacific I got Bri to get out of the water, when her back was turned I slipped the ring into my hand then got down on a knee. I opened my hand asked her to marry me and the ring was out of my hand and on her finger in 2.3 seconds and she kept repeating "are you serious?". After some clarification she let me know that it was a yes. Then a dog came tearing onto the beach and our private beach became public again. I cannot believe that I was able to propose to the woman I love on a private beach in Hawaii.      

How Briana remembers it...
Travis and I were in Hawaii with my family over Thanksgiving 2013 and I had really hoped Travis had purchased a ring that he'd be bringing with him, but I was pretty sure he hadn't. He'd asked me a few times to go swim in the ocean (I'm a bit of a pool girl at times) since we'd been in Hawaii and I'd been putting it off, but for some reason I said yes this time, so we tossed some towels into a backpack, pulled our phones and wallets out of the backpack, and headed down to Baby Beach. After the world's shortest swim, Travis decided we were done and we should go back. I realized I'd been grumpy, told him I loved him, and we started to towel off. With a hug, a kiss, and a few sweet words about how much he loved me, he pulled a ring OUT OF NOWHERE and got down on one knee. He said, quite formally, "Briana, will you marry me?" and I ripped the ring out of his hand and put it on my finger and kept repeating "are you serious? wait, how'd you get this here? is this for real?" and other unhelpful things. Poor guy just wanted me to say yes. But I'm sure it was obvious. I couldn't stop staring at the perfect ring on my finger - it fit perfectly, was my birthstone, and was from the man of my dreams. YES YES YES. YES a million times over. Then I cried, interrogated him with a million questions about how he did all of this without me knowing (he's clever), when he bought the ring (months before), where he'd been hiding it (the attic of our house), and how he snuck it in the luggage (wrapped in a microfiber cloth in his headphone case). I hope the memories of that day always stay as sharp as they are for me now; I can't help but smile whenever I think of how ridiculous I was when it all happened. 

Totes Le Tote

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This post's title...haha. Sometimes I crack myself up.

But seriously, you guys, Le Tote has changed my world. I don't often mention it in the posts as I'm wearing items, but check out a lot of my Le Tote outfits here. I have a couple of complaints about Le Tote: the dresses are often too short for work, they send bracelets a lot but I never wear them, sometimes not every item fits me; but for the most part, I'm shopping so much less because I constantly have fun, new items to mix into my existing wardrobe. And they have been adding awesome new items lately for fall. 

This dress is a recent favorite. My co-worker got it in her tote, wore it and we all loved it so much my other co-worker went out and found it online for purchase, and I added it to my closet. And when it came, it fit perfectly and it was so so so hard for me to send it back. But I did. 

Want to sign up? You can visit their website using this link and provide me with referral credit, or you can click here to head on over there without. 

And that necklace? I got it a couple of months ago and kept it, and it is my new favorite. The unique take on neutrals with a tiny bit of peachy pink has proven to match everything. EVERYTHING. 

Wedding Update: Food Tasting

Monday, November 24, 2014

Last week Travis and I (and my parents) went up to our wedding venue, Swiftwater Cellars, for our food tasting. You guys, I wish I could invite you all to the wedding, if only for the food. We are serving passed appetizers during cocktail hour and plated dinner during the reception, and we got to taste everything. Without giving too much away, here were some highlights: one of the appetizers is grilled cheese bites with tomato soup shooters, and it is phenomenal. The entrees are all full-meal sized, and taste nothing like banquet food, and our guests are able to choose between chicken, salmon, and beef. After tasting them all, I am no closer to a decision than I was before - they were all absolutely delicious. 

We had a blast tasting all of the food that our guests will eat and talking through the flow of the evening. Our invites have been sent and we've started to receive RSVPs, and I'm realizing that we are so dang close to the big day...I can hardly contain my excitement. 

We snapped a couple of quick pics in the morning after staying the night at the Lodge at Suncadia before driving home:

Pants: Zara (similar)
Sweater: H&M
Scarf: Target
Boots: Sam Edelman

I'm loving all of the linkups from last week's Third Thursday Threads. The link-up is still live, so head on over to link up, or view all of the awesome fall footwear!

Third Thursday Threads: Fall Footwear

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Welcome to Third Thursday Threads: Fall Footwear! I'm so excited to see everything you've come up with. As you probably guessed, I'm 100% obsessed with these booties and have been wearing them every chance I get. Proof:

Seen originally here, here, and here.

In fact, don't tell Travis, but I just bought them in cognac. They should arrive any day now :)

But let's not forget about the most clicked link from last month's pink link-up! Meet Carylee from More Pieces of Me. I'm really excited to have her co-hosting with me today, so make sure you swing by her blog to check out some of her AMAZING looks and hear what she has to say about her favorite fall footwear!

And now, for the link-up. In case you're new here, here's how this works:
In case you're new here, here's how this works:
2. Link to a specific post, not your general blog URL, and please be wearing or talking about fall footwear.
3. Visit the other bloggers who have linked up!

Wedding Update: Hair & Makeup Trial

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Time for another wedding update! We are less than three months away, which means I'm spending a lot of time focusing on turning my plans into detailed plans: we have a florist, now we have to finalize our floral plans; we have a venue, now we have to determine what food we'll have at the wedding; we have a dj, now we have to pick songs for the important moments. And I have my hair and makeup artist, but I had to get a trial to determine how I wanted to look. 

And this is a result of that appointment:

This isn't exactly what it will look like for the wedding, which is why I can show you...I'm a fan of keeping the specific details secret until the big day, which means I'll be showing you a lot of wedding details after the big day. But I love the vision we both have and I'm sure we'll get there on the actual day, and that's all that matters!

Sweater: J. Crew (it was Trav's...until I shrunk it)
Shirt: Urban Outfitters (similar)
Pants: LOFT
Booties: BP

And since it is so hard to see the color of my pants in the other photos, here's a picture of just that.

Don't forget - tomorrow is Third Thursday Threads: Fall Footwear, so make sure you're back for the link-up!

The Blanket Scarf

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So...I caved. 

Or rather, I finally found what I'd been looking for for weeks. In Denver, Target still had the blanket scarf. In stock -- and ON SALE. I know, crazy. But when I was there in October, I picked it up real quick, and I've been absolutely loving it, as are the rest of you with yours, I'm sure.

This is the first time I wore it to work, and I got a TON of compliments. Like, a ton a ton. First, with the coat:

Coat: H&M (purchased in London, similar)

And without: 

Jeans: LOFT
Sweater: Nordstrom (similar)
Scarf: Target
Boots: Sam Edelman

Just two days to figure out your Fall Footwear for Third Thursday Threads! Hope to see you all here for the link-up!

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