March 31, 2012

Exciting Engagements

Posted by Kristin

Well folks, some exciting news to share in the world of PEC. My sister, Catie, recently got engaged to the sweetest and most bad-ass guy ever! The bad-ass-ness comes from the fact that Kevin does rally racing and teaches some pretty awesome, high speed driving courses. He's the dude you see in a Porsche commercial driving all crazy...but you don't really see him because the windows are always tinted. Why is that? But seriously. He really is that due. Literally. And now he's about to be my brother-in-law. Can I get a hollah?!

The happy couple at Laura's New Years Eve party.
Watch these two, and a bunch of our crazy friends, in this video. 

Yea...I get to hang out with this guy...

Anyways, Catie and Kevin go together like barley and hops (for those non beer drinkers those are two of the main ingredients that make up that miracle beverage), like Vermont and maple syrup, like a really sweet guy with a really sweet girl.  So what does all this mean in the world of PEC? Wedding Planning!!!!

They've just begun to think about where they'd like to have the wedding and what style they'd like to go for. My sister described her ideal day as "rustic-upscale-farm-BBQ". So, we'll have to see what we can do with that. Catie recently sent me a link to this great website, Style Me Pretty, and included a link to a beautiful and classy farm wedding.  The amazing photos come from Kelly Dillon Photography and the wedding took place at Sunbrite Dairy Farm in Bernardston, MA. Head over here to see the full details.

Another wedding I love, along with all his tunes, is singer Mat Kearney's wedding to his beautiful bride in a country Nashville setting.  I could eat this wedding and all its country-chic-ness up with a ol' spoon.

Tec Petaja

Southern Wedding Food

Franklin Farm Wedding

See more details of their wedding here.  Yay for weddings!

March 29, 2012

Handmade Earrings

Posted by Laura

Two days left to enter our Landscape Consultation Giveaway contest!

I was surprised by my husband the other day when he came home with a little "just because" gift for me - a pair of handmade, one-of-a-kind earrings from Sutter's Jewelry. Caleb worked with James Sutter on the details of these bad boys, and they have quickly become my new favorite pair of earrings. 

I love the brushed metal (I'm really not a bling bling kinda girl).
I love the detail on the leaf like the exposed vein. 
I love that the back is connected to the front through one solid piece causing the earring to swing instead of dangle.

I'm going to take a little timeout to brag about my husband. He is literally one of the most full-of-life people I know. He is joyful, goofy, passionate, and oh-so-loving (and is belting out Parachute's She is Love in the shower as I write this). We'll be married for 5 years this July and I love him more now than ever.

I put together this shrine to embarrass him :)

Back to the earrings.

As I mentioned earlier, they were handmade by a jeweler in Holyoke, MA named James Sutter. A few months ago I went into his shop with a friend, ran into an old neighbor, and the 4 of us chatted for about an hour about nothing and everything. Through that conversation, I learned that James and his wife are not only passionate about handcrafted jewelry, but also for the City of Holyoke. To me, that said a lot about his character.

Back to his jewelry, here is a snippet from his website:
For James, the most important thing is the way that a unique and perfectly
crafted piece can offer years of enjoyment, how many smiles can come
from a single sparkling diamond, and how helping to mark the important
times in people’s lives can make a craftsman’s passion incredibly worthwhile.

If you're in need of a new jeweler in Holyoke, I recommend you stop in and see him. His shop is located at 1548 Northampton Street, Holyoke, Massachusetts.

March 27, 2012

Before and After: Dining Room Reveal

Posted by Kristin

Like I mentioned here, I've been slacking a bit on showing you the updates we've made to our current apartment. Well, I've since jumped on the sharing band wagon and today brings us to the dining room. When we first moved in, it was mostly a place for us to stash stuff while we continued to unpack.

Not too much dining going on here...

Then this fall, I shared a fun, teal paint job that my dining room hutch received. This was really a jumping off point for the rest of the room.

Remember this?

Shortly thereafter, I finally got around to setting up the rest of the room. Now the room is a fully functional dining (or blog writing) space. The color scheme is red and teal with hints of black and natural wood. Aside from the table and hutch, other additions to the room were an impromptu bar area (we actually don't drink much hard alcohol but some how have a ton!) and a display area for all our pint glasses, favorite beer bottles, and other stuff we've collected over the years. I figured Mike would really appreciate this last area since all of our beer paraphernalia was in boxes or not displayed well for the last few years. So pull up a seat...

Looking in from the living room hallway.

Simple red and white paisley curtains and
 an apple tree print carry out the color scheme.

The view from the kitchen.

I bought the table and chairs at the Brimfield Antiques Show right before we got married.

A simple burlap runner with a striped square of fabric
 (actually a napkin) is topped with nature's free decor: pinecones.

A pillow made out of the same dishtowel on the table adds a little
cushion for our guests' bums. Ya know, gotta look out for all of you.

Bar Area: we're not big drinkers, I swear!

An old cabinet door turned chalkboard. I just tried out
the chalk and it worked.  Plus,  Ben's words are so true!

The teal hutch sitting next to a nice IPA my husband is brewing (on the right).

Between re-purposing what I already had, buying a few cans of white spray paint, and getting creative with displaying meaningful objects, the whole room came together for under $10. Now I'd say, for a dining room, that's a palette-pleasing price. (oh the alliteration, I know...)

March 25, 2012

Naturally Sweetened, Healthy Muffins

Posted by Laura
Happy Spring!

I must preface this with saying 2 things about these muffins:
They are not really sweet. There is no sugar in them (other than fruit), so they're quite mild when it comes to flavor...which brings me to my next point -----> They sort of have the consistency of cardboard.


They are so healthy. It all started with me feeling the need to eat healthy(ish) carbs. Since carbs are my favorite things in the world (give me a big bagel with a side of fettechini alfredo and I am good to go), I end up eating a LOT of white flour and white sugar each day. Now, we all know that white flour and white sugar is not good for us (thank you Dr. Atkins), and that it is good to ration it out to keep up with a healthy lifestyle.

Let me say one more thing about these muffins. They have been approved my moms around the world. My sister-in-law (Holly) lives and breathes healthy food (figuratively, not literally - that would be just weird). My nephew Connor is now 1 years old and has had a pretty healthy upbringing so far. This recipe comes from her finagling her way through her own cupboards and using ingredients on hand.

The way these muffins are made are, in a nut shell, winged. The basic idea is that you use 50/50 wet vs dry ingredients. Here is a quick diagram of what I mean by that:

Here is the formula I concocted:

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour (good source of calcium, iron, and fiber)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp wheat germ (good source of protein, iron, octacsanol, omega-3, B vitamins, Vitamin E, and fiber)
1 tsp cinnamon (great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and also acts as a natural preservative)

Wet Ingredients:
2 medium, ripe bananas- mashed (Vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and potassium)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (good source of fiber and vitamin c)
1/2 cup milk (calcium)
pureed pumpkin (excellent source of vitamin A)
pureed carrots (good source of vitamin A, fiber, antioxidants)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 deg F
  2. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients.
  3. Combine dry and wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour into a greased muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes. The muffins are ready when a sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Dry ingredients = 2 1/4 cups

Wet ingredients = 2 1/4 cups

Mix with a spoon

Scoop into muffin tin


March 23, 2012

Giveaway: 1 Hour Landscape Design Consultation

**This contest is closed**
winner announced here

Posted by Kristin

Love Spring is in the air..everywhere I look around. 
Love Spring is in the air...every sight and every sound.

And I don't know if I'm being foolish 

Don't know if I'm being wise
But it's something that I must believe in
And it's there when I look in your eyes

Spring is on its way!

Well, some would certainly say that I'm being foolish but so be it. Spring is in the air and for some reason it just makes me think of this 1978 hit by John Paul Young. Oh baby.

For those of us who love the sight of flowers budding out, the smell of sun-warmed soil and the anticipation of what spring has in store, we're doing a horticultural happy dance at the sunshine and warm temps gracing us lately. Or at least those of us in the Pioneer Valley. So to commemorate the arrival of spring, PEC has partnered with Taking Root Design (which really means Laura and I have partnered with myself- try to figure that one out!) and is doing a landscape design consultation giveaway!

So what the heck is this giveaway exactly? Well, for anyone that has a yard, garden, deck or general outdoor area and would like a professional design consultation, you're in luck. Here's the deets:

For those of you who live in the Pioneer Valley (within 30 miles of South Hadley, MA): 
An on-site, in person, 1 hour landscape design consultation. The consultation could include such topics as recommendations on where to put a new garden, ways tie your overall landscaping together, specific plant recommendations (such as good shrubs for privacy or native plants for an edible garden), or large scale concepts on future lanscaping and space planning. Don't overlook small spaces either; alot can be accomplished (and grown) on decks, balconies, and porches!

For those who live outside the Pioneer Valley (or more than 40 miles from South Hadley, MA):
A 1 hour, virtual landscape design consultation. This consultation can cover the same topics as mentioned above but will be further enhanced by the winner sending photos and videos prior to the consultation.

Raised Beds w/ Water Garden
Maybe you want to do this? via

A potted salad garden
Or this? via
gardens of marqueyssac
Or even this? P.S. Be ready to be married to your pruning shears! via

Terms (please visit our giveaway FAQs page for questions):

PRIZE : A 1 hour on site landscape design consultation or a 1 hour virtual landscape design consultation
TO ENTER : Leave a comment on this post (not our facebook page) telling us what you are looking forward to doing outdoors this spring. One entry per person. Winner is chosen at random.

Contest closes on Friday March 30th at 9:00 pm EST. The winner will be chosen by drawing a name from a hat and announced in an April 2nd blog post. You must email Kristin within one week of the announcement to confirm your interest in and availability for the consultation, or we'll move onto the next name. One winner per contest. Please email Kristin at Remember, your comment must be on the blog, not our facebook page. Good Luck!

March 21, 2012

Go Big or Go Home: A Vegan Day

Posted by Laura

Shopping for a vegan diet is expensive! Okay, I must admit that I'm a complete newbie at this so I'm sure I got suckered into expensive items due to lack of knowledge, but wowzers! Our grocery bill was like double what it usually is. It was however totally worth it and we're still glad that we made the decision. Oh and for those of you in the back, I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and it inspired Caleb and me to eat a vegan diet one day/week for health purposes. We are not going 100% vegan (because we love steak and ice cream too much - not together though, gross), but we are committing to a vegan diet one day/week. The one day/week part is loose, but the diet the day that we choose is not.

The no-meat part was fine, but holy moly we realized that there is dairy in literally every meal we eat! I really had to sit down and plan out the details of our first vegan diet day with research, thought and patience. First, I started a pinterest board to gather inspiration.

Then, I assembled a menu and put together a shopping list.

Then, I had to pick a day that I knew we could easily execute our meals (i.e. a day on the lighter side of the social calendar). Sunday.


MAIN COURSE: Poppyseed Bagels with Trader Joe’s Almond Butter
SIDE: Clementines
DRINK: Coffee with Soy Creamer

Breakfast was a little tough for me, and I must admit not very creative. I think that whenever my coffee is not exactly as I like it, then it's just not good. I light strong, dark coffee with plain creamer (not milk, not sweetened creamer, not fat-free creamer...just plain creamer). For my vegan-friendly substitute, I used Silk Original Soy Creamer. It definitely worked out (and I used the creamer all week until the container was empty), but it just wasn't my ideal. Caleb drinks his coffee black, so this was an easy-peasy one for him.


MAIN COURSE: Beans and Rice
SIDE: Tortilla Chips
SIDE: Apple Slices
DRINK: Coconut Milk

Lunch was great. I was able to make a meal that we love to eat anyways, beans and rice. I simply subtracted the side of sour cream, and this meal was instantly vegan-approved.

This bean recipe came from my friend Ailea who whipped it together one night as a taco add-in. I have since adapted it and turned it into a full-fledged meal (by doubling it and adding it to rice). Here's the quick and easy recipe:

Beans and Rice
-1 can of black beans
-1/2 container of fresh salsa
-1 tsp cumin

In my humble option, this brand of salsa is THE best.
It can be found at Big Y.

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a small pot on the stove top (do not drain beans). Let simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Note: If using beans from a dried beans recipe, add extra water to the pot to give the beans some juice.

  2.  Cook rice on the side and serve beans over rice.

On a non-vegan day, I would add a dollop of sour cream on top.

Happy camper.


MAIN COURSE: Falafel in Pita Pockets with Tahini Sauce
SIDE: Salad with Cucumbers and Tomatoes
DRINK: Almond Milk

Dinner was delicious. We really enjoyed prepping this meal together. I was surprised how easy the falafels were to make and how authentic they tasted. One of my favorite restaurants in Northampton is a little Mediterranean joint called Amanouz Cafe. Their falafels are ah-mazing, and I must say that these ones we made were pretty close to theirs. It was like a sweet little surprise for us!

Here are the recipes we used:

All in all, it was a great day. We are so happy we did it and plan to keep doing it. I'll wrap up with some fun observations about the day. Here they are:
#1 I was full, all day
#2 I felt like I had more energy (which could have been the placebo affect, who knows).
#3 I wasn't craving anything, just perfectly content with the food we had.
and #4 I felt really good and well nourished!
Oh, and by the way, does anyone have any suggestions for good dairy-free creamers?

March 19, 2012

This Week's Eats 3/18/12

Posted by Kristin

Another week of eats is up and this week is full of vegetarian options and a good old dash of seafood. I think now that spring is pretty much here, I'm craving lots of veggies and lighter meals, hence the three vegetarian meals this week. As for the seafood- well, who doesn't like shrimp (unless you're allergic- my sympathies!) and a good ol' fish taco? If the words fish + taco bring on a wave of nausea you've got to get the idea of a traditional Mexican taco out of that head of yours! Think California, sun and surf, and lots of good texture (fried fish plus crunchy slaw is a texture taster's dream). Alright, enough chatting..onward and upward to the recipes.

Sunday: Creamy Tomato Dill Soup with Grilled Cheese

Creamy Tomato Dill
Tomato soup (on R) = yum! via
Even though I just shared my cravings for lighter food, I figured this week may be my last chance to sneak in a warm and cozy soup dinner. Another plus is that I can make it ahead of time and let it simmer of the stove until we want to eat. This is my favorite tomato soup recipe to date. Sara Foster's cookbooks are a great addition to any kitchen and the tantalizing photos don't hurt either.

Monday: Crispy Fish Tacos with Baja Sauce and Cabbage Slaw

Del Taco Crispy Fish Taco
Get into my belly! via
 Sometimes you find a version of a recipe that is just so darn good that you don't really want to venture past it. This is one of those recipes for us. We originally found this recipe in the Top Secret Recipes Unlocked cookbook and its based off of Del Taco's Crispy Fish Taco. However, the recipe calls for fish sticks and I don't think I've ever eaten a fish stick, let alone kept them in my freezer. So instead, we usually cut a few white fish fillets (Tilapia and Pollock are good choices) into chunks, dip them in a simple batter and pan fry them.  We follow the rest of the recipe to a T and its delish every time.

Tuesday: Shrimp Po'Boys with a green salad

Picture of Shrimp Scampi Po-Boy on Garlic Bread Recipe
We have just enough shrimp to use them in a sandwich and shrimp po'boys are a great choice. This recipe is new to me (mainly the aspect of the garlic bread) but will hopefully be very tasty.

Wednesday: Portobello Burgers with a green salad

Picture of Portobello Mushroom Burger Recipe
I've always wanted to try making Portobello burgers and since I was on a vegetarian kick this week, it seemed as good a time as any. I may or may not use the roasted red peppers and picked up some whole wheat buns instead of white buns. Paired with a green salad it should turn out to be pretty good (I hope- only one way to find out).

Thursday: Left overs of Sunday's Soup and grilled cheese

If you haven't figured it out already, we usually eat leftovers at least once a week and its pretty much always on Thursdays. Getting home late + hosting a house church= chaos on its own. Adding in cooking dinner would only add more chaos so thank God for leftovers.

Friday: Pizza, Pizza, Pizza! (and a green salad)

Pizza Dough from
Bobby Flay's dough recipe is easy and amazingly good! via
Something about pizza on Friday nights is fun; plus we're super psyched to be seeing the Hunger Games tonight. I'll probably due a cheese pizza with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and fresh garlic. To date, this is my favorite recipe for pizza dough. I used regular flour instead of bread flour and actually subbed in 1 cup of whole wheat flour just to make it a bit healthier. Maybe if its warm enough, I'll even grill it. Grilled pizza is delish!

Saturday: Dinner with the Fam

My sis Catie and I. Who do you think is older?
We've got a family dinner planned for this night and so far the menu sounds pretty darn good: chicken parmesan, eggplant parmesan, salad and garlic bread. My sister is hosting so we'll probably bring one of the sides and some good beers to share. Yay for family dinners!

What recipes are you planning on making this week? Anything new? Is anyone else craving lots of veggies and lighter meals now that spring is here? Happy cooking and eating!