Our Home: Kitchen

Not sure why I haven't shared photographs of our kitchen earlier - It's looked the same for about a year.  I wouldn't call it my dream kitchen, but its great for a rented space -- with a functional, open concept design and great working appliances. There are a few things I have learned from this kitchen that I will take with me when looking to buy/renovate:…
Bits & Pieces

One Last Relaxing Beach Weekend

One Last Relaxing Beach Weekend | Vanilla & Velvet I have been trying to enjoy every last moment of the few free weekends I have left before Yoga Teacher Training begins in early September.  I couldn't be more excited to start class and completely immerse myself in yoga, but I am going to miss my lazy weekend mornings and free afternoons to spend walking the Beltline, wondering around farmers markets and soaking up rays at the pool.  Last weekend we decided to advantage of a no plans weekend and  crash Greg's parents vacation in Destin, Florida.  We had a lovely time in Destin at Miramar Beach-  actually I can't believe we haven't made a trip in the summer before.  It was just a quick 5 hour drive,  the ocean was unbelievable clear, the sand was flawless and the water temperature was perfect. I  hope we turn this into a yearly trip! Once September starts I will be opening a new leaf, and a rather busy one at that.  I will be adding my first Emory MBA class to my schedule, one evening a week, and yoga teacher training class at Hotlanta Yoga on Friday evenings,  20 hours of class on the weekend, and I will be required to attend 3 yoga classes a week and assist one of the teachers in one class a week.  See what  I mean? A complete Yoga immersion for 3 months!  I can't wait! One Last Relaxing Beach Weekend | Vanilla & Velvet One Last Relaxing Beach Weekend | Vanilla & Velvet One Last Relaxing Beach Weekend | Vanilla & Velvet After completing Yoga teacher training I will be certified under Yoga Alliance as Registered Yoga Teachers at the 200 hour level. (RYT-200) Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. It sets standards and provides credentials that are the premier form of recognition for yoga teachers and teacher-training programs. 


Want: A handful of stackable rings from Another feather.  I really like the look of the gold Arch Ring mixed with an assortment of Crest Rings. Love: This weekend my friend Drew and I went to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and it was absolutely beautiful -- my favorite section being the herb garden wall and orchid greenhouse.  Highly recommend stopping by if you are visiting Atlanta or just wondering around…

GIVEAWAY / #ShareGoodness – NOW CLOSED

GIVEAWAY / #ShareGoodness | Vanilla & Velvet

I am so excited about today’s giveaway!  Yoga lovers you won't want to miss this one.

Zoës Kitchen, a fast casual restaurant concept serving a distinct menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes,  is running a Summer of Goodness program. This campaign aims to inspire people to do good and then share their good deeds through #sharegoodness.  Zoës Kitchen hopes to inspire other to live a balanced lifestyle by staying positive, being active, and eating healthy, high quality foods that make you feel good from the inside out.  And now they want to share some of that goodness with Vanilla & Velvet readers by giving away a Yoga Package filled with several goodies including: lululemon 105 F Singlet Yoga Top, The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga, Manduka Recycled Foam Block, lululemon Fly Away Tamer Headband, a Zoës Kitchen gift card and other fun items.

To enter to win, you simply have to participate in Zoës Summer of Goodness program by sharing an act of kindness you performed on Facebook , Twitter or Instagram with the hastag #sharegoodness then come back here and share your act of kindness in the comments section below.  I will randomly choose the lucky winner on Tuesday (8/5).

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for playing!

Send some goodness to Vanilla & Velvet by "liking" the Facebook Page.



Fresh Cherry Pie

Remember when I told you my computer crashed the other week?  Well the pictures to a beautiful Smitten Kitchen peach pie died with it.  The pie was so scrumptious I decided to try a round 2 with a cherry filling and it turned out just as beautiful and delicious as the first.  Unless you are Greg, who does not like the texture of baked whole cherries...  No matter what filling you go with, the pie crust recipe will not fail - It is my third time making Smitten Kitchen's pie crust  and the third time it turned out perfectly. Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet
Fresh Cherry Pie
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Gina Mueller
  • 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
  • 1 tablespoons (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 sticks (225 grams, 8 ounces, or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1/2 cup water, very cold
  • 4 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries (2 1/2 pounds, unpitted)
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) corn starch
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup (134 to 150 grams) sugar, adjusted accordingly to sweetness of cherries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy or whipping cream
  • Additional sugar for topping crust (coarse sugar is a nice option)
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl.
  3. Using a pastry blender, herb scissors or your fingertips until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas.
  4. Gently stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball.
  5. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc.
  6. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days.
  7. Flour your counter, unwrap your first dough and put it in the middle and flour that too. Start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the pin and moving it from the center out; be patient and it will crack less.
  8. Once your dough is a 12- to 13-inch circle, transfer pie dough to a standard pie dish by folding it gently into quarters, arranging the folded corner into one quadrant of the bottom of your tin and gently unfolding it to fit over the base.
  9. Trim the overhang to one inch.
  11. In a large bowl, stir cornstarch, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon juice and the salt together then add cherries. Gently toss to combine.
  13. Preheat: Oven to 425 degrees
  14. Scoop filling into bottom pie dough, including any juices.
  15. Roll out your top pie dough using the same procedure, until it is 12 to 13 inches in diameter.
  16. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction. Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed.
  17. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim. Pinch or gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp decoratively.
  18. Brush pie with milk, cream or water and sprinkle with sugar.
  19. Bake for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is set and beginning to brown.
  20. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake pie for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbling all over and the crust is a nice golden brown.
  21. Cool pie.
Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet I used a chopstick to pit the cherries here are some other alternative tools if you don't have a cherry pitter. Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetAnother makeshift tool, these herb scissors work wonders if you don't have a pastry blender on hand. Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet
Bits & Pieces

Best Week Ever?

Best Week Ever? | Vanilla & Velvet Yesterday was my 25th birthday and it was the perfect close to one of the best weeks I can ever remember having.  The week was so good I was afraid that if another good thing happened I would explode!  The week just reminds me how fortunate I am and that you can do whatever you want with your life.  You just sometimes have to be persistent and learn to overcome and grow from the set backs.   A few of the highlights:
  • I was accepted into Emory's Evening MBA program on Tuesday-- which starts in 2 weeks!
  • I started my new job and had a great first week.  Same company and boss - just  a shift in responsibilities
  • My blog is gaining in popularity each month and I hit a big milestone last week - hint keep your eyes out for a giveaway!
  • Birthday presents and cards trickled in all week - and the theme to all my birthday cards made me smile: yoga and kittens
  • Greg and I finally went on our first hike in Atlanta - Arabia Mountain Top Trail -- and made the goal of 2 hikes a month, lets see if we can stick to it
  • Greg and I split arguably the best tuna melt ever at Savi Provisions
  • Made our favorite dinner on Friday - Flank Steak & Veggie Stirfry
  • These awesome new birthday  yoga pants that dry crazy fast  - they were drenched when I left the studio and almost completely dry after my 10 minute drive home (Thanks Ellen!)
  • Made it to lots of yoga classes at Hotlanta Yoga and Damien hosted one of the most kick-ass classes ever on Sunday
  • A huge bouquet of fresh Birthday flowers
  • Greg and I stumbled upon the Fever Tree tonic water we fell in love with in London which we couldn't find anywhere in the states - you can buy it here
  • Birthday dinner at Greg and my favorite Atlanta Italian restaurant - La Tavola
  • One of my best friends is visiting next week!
  • Made a pie - my first fresh cherry pie.  Which is hard to believe since cherry pie is my favorite pie! - recipe coming soon

Trip to: Barcelona

I have been avoiding this post because my computer crashed the day after we got home and I lost ALL our Barcelona pictures from my camera.  On the bright side I did manage to capture some great shots on my phone.  Read about our stay in Dublin and London before we got to Barcelona. Day 1: We arrived around 4:00pm, and checked…

Our Home: Pantry

When we moved into our new space the one thing it was missing was kitchen storage - and for someone who stock piles food (me) a pantry is a must.  We did have an awkward nook between the laundry closet and kitchen so we decided it was the perfect place to install a few shelves for a homemade pantry.  It takes discipline…