2.18.2017

The Best Oatmeal Cookies


If there's one thing I love, it's a good cookie. I love making them, I love baking them, and especially I love eating them (and the dough too of course). Plus they're something that is easy for a child to help make, and there's nothing better than getting my little one involved in the kitchen. If she's having a bad day, the one sure way to instantly turn the day around is to let her help me bake or cook something, she loves it and I just love making memories with her. I have so many  memories of baking with my own mama at a young age, so I know these are memories that we will cherish forever, her and I baking together, it's just so much fun.


This oatmeal cookie recipe is one of the best one's I've ever made, I've obviously tweaked it a bit since I tend to do that with any recipe, but they turned out soooo soft and chewy and were even delicious almost a week later. Bella and I don't really care for raisins (but we do love chocolate chips) so when we made this recipe recently, we doubled the batch from what I'm sharing here and made half with dark chocolate chips for he and I, and raisins for Frank. We also made the cookies quite large and cooked them for about another 5 minutes than what I'm sharing below (I'm sharing the regular cookie size, temps, times and recipe for normal sized cookies below). These are so simple to make, are so delicious and sure to make everyone's tummy happy. not to mention that they make your home smell amazing AND they're great for breakfast with a glass of milk. Happy Baking!


THE BEST OATMEAL COOKIES


WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup unsalted real butter

1 cup light brown sugar packed

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups instant oats

2 cups dark chocolate chocolate chips or raisins


WHAT YOU'LL DO:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer (a KitchenAid works perfectly for this, but any kind will work), beat butter and sugars on high until pale and fluffy (around 3 minutes). Then add eggs into your butter and sugar mix one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition, and beat on high for 1 minute. Add vanilla next. Turn mixer to low and add flour mixture, mix until combined. Add oats in. Next add your chocolate chips or raisins. Mix until just combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and using a spoons, place cookies on baking sheet 2" apart (we did 9 cookies per sheet, but we also made them pretty large). Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned but center is still soft and unset (bake for 15 minutes if making larger cookies). Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. These look super cute stacked on a cake stand btw. :) Enjoy!

2.17.2017

The Simple Seam


I recently had the chance to sit down with Leslie, the owner of The Simple Seam and it was one of those "hit it off" and "fast friends" kind of moments for sure. We met by chance on Instagram right before the holidays right soon after her shop had opened and once we realized that we were practically neighbors, we decided to meet up at one of our favorite local coffee shops.

Let me tell you, Leslie is one of the kindest people you'd ever want to meet, we talked over our love for cookies, fixer upper, the little town we were meeting up in, practically everything under the sun and of course, clothing. I even interviewed her for a little segment below so you can get to know her more too!


HI LESLIE! CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR SHOP, THE SIMPLE SEAM? 
I grew up in the somewhat charming, but otherwise very small town located in western PA. Alcohol is illegal to sell and Amish buggies slowly trot through the streets; it seems pleasant, but I always wanted to “get the heck out!” I spent six years away, bouncing around from college to college all just to complete a bachelor’s degree. Needless to say it took me quite awhile to figure out that whole “what I wanted to be when I grew up” thing. I initially thought it was a chiropractor, so that dream ate up three of those six years, but then I came to the realization that the picture that I painted in my head in 8th grade was no longer for me. So instead, I followed a dream and a love that was always within me and transferred for the 3rd time to West Virginia University to study Fashion Merchandising and Design (+ business, PR, and photography just to take up some time.) You’d probably think, West Virginia and fashion… those do not really mix, but it was the best three years of my life. I learned so much about myself, made those forever-type friends and finally found what made me happy.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN OWNING YOUR OWN BOUTIQUE? WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
After I graduated and the “fun” ended and the “adulting” began, I found myself slightly lost and thinking that my degree may have been for nothing. Fashion? I surely did not want to work in retail forever, nor did I want the whole NYC big city living. I found myself bouncing from job to job, a customer service representative, your typical chipper sales associate, and even a manager, though none of these monotonous jobs made me the slightest bit excited about my career or life. Lets face it; your career is your life these days, so it better make you happy! I moved back to my small town, moped around a bit, felt sorry for myself, and continued to work an unrewarding job. I have one “non-negotiable” in my life and that is to never waste time, not in my career, love life, or even in my day to day. I constantly want to me moving forward. This is the switch that flipped on the idea of what is today my little biz, The Simple Seam!

It is plain to see that working in fashion was not always a dream of mine, and neither was owning my own business. I forgot to mention that my dream job was actually working for Anthropologie as a visual merchandiser. There was a point that I may have very well moved to Philadelphia and settled for a part-time job as a sales associate, I just wanted to be there, surrounded by all those pretty things, loads of inspiration and creative folk. However, there are so many other factors in taking that kind of leap, so I took a different kind of leap with the business that I have created today. I can work from home, be surrounded by those that I love and truly create something that is my own. To most it looks like The Simple Seam was just a way out, but really it was what I should have created all along; like most things in my life, it just took a little (or long) while for me to realize it.


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER SINCE OPENING?
All that I have made The Simple Seam into has solely been created by myself. The name, the idea, my buying decisions, the photography, webpage, and even my marketing, just me. I am truly a one-woman show, so everyday is a learning experience, which really make things interesting. This I think is what makes me most proud about my little business so far. Who would have thought that all of those majors and minors that I spent so many years studying are actually paying off in such an interconnected way! Also the support that I have gotten from family, friends, friends of friends, and even strangers has been overwhelming and I am so thankful for it. It is truly the most rewarding fulfilling feeling that I have ever felt.

WHAT INSPIRED YOUR SHOP NAME?
So, The Simple Seam… the name truly just came to me one night while I was likely lying awake thinking, “I would do anything to not have to go to work tomorrow.” I had jotted down some ideas, knew that alliterations were good when it came to business names, and obviously wanted some kind of hint that it was a clothing-related brand. Simple really just describes the feel of the style that I wanted to embody within the brand: simple, effortless, stylish clothing that you can throw on and just go. Essentially what I have created stems a lot from my personal style, within my wardrobe and my life. And just so we stick to those “business basics” my target market was also largely incorporated into these decisions. I knew that I wanted to target those of my age and slightly older who were beginning to settle down, start a family and were really just at the sweet spot in their lives. Although, no, I do not have children and am not yet married, I wanted to create something that will grow with me. The here and now is great, but you cannot really create success from being static. I cannot wait to see where this little business of mine will take me in life! 

WHICH PRODUCT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PRODUCT (SO FAR) THAT YOU OFFER?
I LOVE IT ALL! My favorites by far though are those items that have bunches of little details. I truly appreciate something simple yet unique and detailed and I really try to embody that in my purchase decisions. (Hadley, Autumn, Ava, Harper, Sadie just to name a few.) I also think you picked some of my favorites as well. Those dresses… pretty much the epitome of The Simple Seam!


I've had the opportunity to try out some of the clothing that Leslie offers over at The Simple Seam and I just absolutely loooove it all! I chose the Ophelia Gingham dress, the Callie Striped dress, the Harper Cargo vest and the Farrah Oversized High-Low Sweater and they're all too perfect! I'll tell a little more about them below!

First up, The Ophelia Gingham Babydoll Dress in Hayseed: This dress reminds me of warm summer days, walks on the beach, wildflowers, gardening and picnics. It's a great length for summertime, not too long, not too short, kind of in-between, ya know? The print is lovely, I'm such a sucker for gingham and it's super comfortable. Win-win.

Next, The Harper Cargo Vest in Fatigue: This vest of the perfect laying and accessorizing piece to add to your closet. It can be worn with short sleeves, long sleeves and pairs perfectly with jeans. Spring, summer, autumn, winter... it works for all the seasons. :)


Also next, The Callie Striped Bib Dress in Raspberry: Ahhh this dress. I've pretty much forever had a crush on all those striped bib dresses you've seen all over Instagram for the past couple of years and I'm so excited to finally own one. Stripes are one of my favorite prints and this dress is literally everything. It's beautiful, comfortable, flattering, and perfection. It's also easy dress up or down, I typically pair it with brown booties and a simple necklace, but it'd work good with cute flats or heels and a statement necklace, or even casual with toms (or hunter boots if it's a rainy day) and a simple necklace. I just love the versatility of this one and you'll probably be seeing me in it a lot this spring and summer.


Last but definitely not least, The Farrah Oversized High-low Sweater in Rose: I was immediately drawn to this sweater because of the color, I mean, is there any color prettier than blush rose? I think not. But after I tried it on, I loved it for more than just it's pretty color. It's so ridiculously comfortable and I seriously don't wanna take it off! If you're looking for the perfect sweater, look no further, this one of it!

Seriously, head on over to The Simple Seam when you get a moment, your closet will thank you and your wallet will too since The Simple Seam offers really affordable prices. These pieces are my favorites but don't forget to see what-all else Leslie offers because literally errrr'thang is adorable (like seriously allll the heart eye emojis)! Happy Shopping!

2.16.2017

Amazing Butterflies


Recently we had the opportunity to visit Carnegie Museum of Natural History and it was such a fun day. We woke up early one Sunday morning, got ready and headed out in the direction of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. We stopped for bagels and juice at Einstein Brother's bakery and loaded up on Jalapeno Cheddar bagels, Cinnamon and Sugar bagels and Honest Kids Juice boxes for Bella, goodness were they ever delicious and quite filling too!

From there we got on the road again and before we knew it, we were pulling into the parking lot at Carnegie Museum! We got there quite early, about 30 minutes early, but we headed on in and sat at the cafe, browsed the gift shop (omg seriously some of the cutest items ever for sale, and really reasonable prices too), checked out the pretty cool digital panoramic photo display and got our tickets.



Once the museum had officially opened, we headed towards the "Amazing Butterflies" Exhibit! And it did not disappoint! We almost stopped to look at the Butterfly gift shop, but hubby dragged us (me lol) away from there (though we did go back afterwards and purchase a beautiful butterfly print for Bella's bedroom) into the actual exhibit and we got to learning!

When you head through the doors of the R.P. Simmons Family Gallery you are instantly shrunken down to the size of an insect, transported into the amazing lifespan of a butterfly, from start to finish. Walk through a caterpillar tunnel, and start learning all about these amazing creatures!



In the Amazing Butterflies Exhibit maze, you (little ones and parents alike) will climb into a pupa pod like a little caterpillar to turn into a butterfly, children can climb on "leaves", "feed" the caterpillars with a beanbag toss game, have giant "plants" brush up against you, smell the aroma of what attracts a butterfly mate (think honey smell), discover how butterflies choose a hosting plant to lay their eggs on... and my personal favorites... flutter your wings for the first time, and also flyyyyy for the first time! it's really such a magical experience as well as a big educational experience, we learned so many new facts about butterflies that we didn't know and it was really interactive. Whether your child attends a public school, a charter school, a private school, or are home-schooled, they'll all love this exhibition and all learn so much from it, maybe even develop a lifelong butterfly fascination! Adults will also love this exhibit and come away from it with a deeper learning of butterflies and their life cycles!


I've only touched on a small portion of all of the amazing activities and fun things the "Amazing Butterflies" Exhibit has to offer, but I don't want to give away too much so you will go see it yourself! If you're in the Pittsburgh area (or anywhere within driving distance really) this is something you definitely need to go see for yourself, and don't forget to check out the rest of the museum, it's quite the showstopper and Bella especially enjoyed the dinosaurs and mummies. Head over to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and check it all out!