{eating} around Scottsdale, AZ

Last week Aaron and I went to Scottsdale, Arizona for a good friend's wedding. Other than Aaron coming down with a bug while there, we had a wonderful time. We stayed in Old Town Scottsdale, which meant that we were surrounded by shops and restaurants, all just a walk (or a scooter!) away.

We didn't do a lot of sightseeing, but we did do a lot of good eating, so I thought I'd share a few places we enjoyed and would recommend.

At the Saguaro Hotel, where we stayed.

{eating} in Scottsdale

  • Barrio Queen - their tacos were delicious (yes, there was one with an egg on it) 
  • Hula's Modern Tiki - I loved the Jerk Pork and also enjoyed a blood orange martini
  • Morning Squeeze for brunch - Probably my favorite spot, my breakfast burrito (with green sauce) was outstanding, and the mimosa flights--in cute little mason jars--couldn't be beat. 
  • Shakes and Cones - a cute little organic soft serve spot, I had the "Vanutzel" but with chocolate ice cream... so the "Chocnutzel" I guess? Chocolate ice cream, Nutella, and pretzels. Yum. 
  • The Daily Dose - This was our first stop for breakfast after our early morning plane trip, and I had Eggs Benedict Tostadas. They were excellent. 
  • Brat Haus - I didn't get a photo, but I recommend this one for great sausages, the biggest pretzel I've ever seen, and good beer. 
  • Sip Coffee and Beer - After breakfast, we treated ourselves to an arrival brew at Sip (although their coffee looked tasty as well)

Have you been to Scottsdale? I hope to go back again!

{reading} a life, in (almost) deaths

I don't remember where I first heard about The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, so it was one I knew next to nothing about before I started reading it. A 464-page library hardcover, it was pretty hefty to lug around, but I'm happy to get a little extra exercise (or potential backaches) for a good read.

Stella Fortuna grew up in Italy but moved with her family to the US as a young adult. This is the story of the seven (or eight) times she nearly lost her life. I liked the way the near-death experiences wove the story together, but not in a completely linear way. I liked the subtle ebb and flow of time.

I wasn't engrossed immediately; Stella's story took me a bit to get into (after about a third of the book if I had to guess). Don't pick this up if you like fast-paced, plot-driven novels. However, if you love a family saga that focuses on the ups and downs of one person's life--a life that can't quite be called extraordinary, yet is far from boring, this may be for you.

For a completely different take on a similar theme of a life told in nearly-fatal experiences, try I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O'Farrell. It's a memoir, and much shorter--only offering a glimpse into her life--but a great read nonetheless.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

{wearing} purple pants

Jeans are definitely my go-to in fall and winter, but sometimes I want a dressier option. During a recent 50% off Loft sale I decided to try a couple pairs of their dress pants, one classic black pair and a more colorful option.

This one looked more burgundy online, but I was pleasantly surprised by its rich eggplant color in person. Bold purple pants meant I kept the rest of my outfit pretty simple, with a twist-front gray sweater and black tasseled loafers.

I don't think colored pants have really gone anywhere, but I have seen them everywhere lately. Do you like bold-colored pants, or do you stick to neutrals? 

{shop bold pants}

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

{eating} chocolate snack bread

I love to bake year-round, but we're entering the time of year that spending time in the kitchen and baking feels magical. When it's chilly outside, but the kitchen is oven-toasty and smells like cookies or cake or bread. Mmmm, I love it.

Over the weekend I tried a recipe for Double Chocolate Quick Bread from (a favorite!) Mel's Kitchen Cafe. The time of year when everyone else is reaching for everything pumpkin, I'm still devoted to chocolate with chocolate and more chocolate.

Although I did have a slice with my coffee for breakfast yesterday morning, realistically it's more of a dessert or sweet snack than something I would eat for breakfast every day. To me it tastes just like a chocolate muffin, which is what I was going for: sweet, chocolatey, and a little bit indulgent.

Do you like to bake this time of year? Have you made anything yummy lately? 

{reading} favorite fall series

Fall is such a perfect time of year to curl up with a blanket and a good book. My fall has been packed with activities, so that cozy reading time has unfortunately come less often than I prefer. Yet as soon as there was a hint of cool weather in the air, I placed a hold on the next (for me) installment of my favorite detective series, the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny.

Despite our busy schedule, I made sure to find time to delve into The Brutal Telling, the fifth in Penny's series. I have enjoyed the books up to this point, but this one pulled me in even more than the others, making me feel as if I was right there in Three Pines, rooting for its villagers and hoping that the the resolution of the murder case won't mean saying goodbye to a beloved character.

If you're looking for a series of books to get swept away by this fall, I can't recommend this one enough. I still have a ways to go (she's up to 15!), but I hear Penny's writing remains impeccable as the series progresses.

I'm typically not a series reader--this one is an exception for me. How about you, do you have any series you love? 

The Brutal Telling: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

{wearing} a few favorites

I love shopping for new fall clothes, and I've added some fun new pieces to my closet already this season (including a sweater blazer and cute tasseled loafers that I'll style soon no doubt). Sometimes though, when I need a quick outfit, I like reaching for a few favorites that I know won't let me down.

This is a combination I wear again and again: jean jacket, striped top, black pants or jeans, and bright shoes. It's fairly season-less, and because I can't seem to stop buying striped shirts or bright shoes, I can wear this combination rather frequently and not feel like I'm always wearing the same thing.

What is one of your go-to combinations that never lets you down?

{shop: a few favorite things}

My favorites in this post are from last year (with the exception of my ancient denim jacket), but here are a few new pieces that definitely meet my "favorite things" criteria.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

{eating} oven roasted gnocchi

Several months ago I shared about my experience with Sweet Peas Meals, and I'm happy to report that I am still loving this meal planning service. Some of the recipes I've received in my weekly meal plan are things I know I will keep in my "dinner repertoire" for a long time to come.

In this case, it isn't so much a recipe as a method, which is roasting gnocchi rather than boiling it. In case you're not familiar with gnocchi, they're little dumplings made from potatoes, and I find them in the freezer section at my grocery store. When I've cooked gnocchi in the past, I just boil them in water like regular pasta, and toss in sauce.

However, from a Sweet Peas Meals dinner plan I learned something new: gnocchi is AMAZING when roasted on a sheet pan. The edges get a little crispy while the inside is still soft. The best part is I can just dump out the completely frozen gnocchi onto the sheet pan--no thawing required.

When we tried it, we combined the gnocchi with fully-cooked sausage, peppers, and onions, tossed with some olive oil and herbs and roasted on a sheet pan (425 F for 20-25 minutes). It was delicious and ridiculously easy.

Have you tried gnocchi this way before? Have you learned any new mind-blowing methods lately?