November 2013 - The Surznick Common Room

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pumpkin Fluff Dip

If you recall reading our post about Pumpkin Roll Cupcakes, then you'll remember that we love pumpkin. Last year we decided to try a new pumpkin dessert that is so quick, so easy, and SO delicious that it has become a fall staple around here. Today we present you with Pumpkin Fluff Dip!

Here's what you need!
- 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
- 8 oz. container of whipped topping
- 4.8 oz. vanilla pudding mix
- Nutmeg and cinnamon to taste (or pumpkin pie spice!)

Literally all you do is mix the above ingredients together and you have pumpkin fluff dip. That's it! Store it in the fridge and serve it with ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, or anything else that sounds tasty. Like I said, easy right?!

Our favorite for dipping!
But we'll do you guys one better... here's the Surznick secret about pumpkin fluff dip: Like a fine wine, it gets better with age. I know that seems strange, but we firmly believe that the pumpkin flavor gets stronger and this tastes even more delicious if you make it a day or two prior to eating it.

We took pumpkin fluff dip to Friendsgiving last weekend and we're taking more to Nick's parents house tomorrow for Thanksgiving. It's a great dish to take to a party because it requires practically no effort and it's always a crowd pleaser. You really can't go wrong here.

Are you making anything delicious for Thanksgiving? Be sure to let us know because we're always looking for awesome recipe ideas!

Safe travels and have a great holiday!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, November 22, 2013

Feeling Fall-ish

The weather last weekend was completely perfect. It was pure fall. Nick and I were out and about running errands, donating some things to the thrift store, and picking up some goodies for ourselves (House of Leaves for $4! YES!). It was so nice to be outside while the weather was warm-ish and no winter coats were required.

Plaid Shirt\Old Navy (exact old, similar),  Cardigan\H&M (similar),  Jeans\American Eagle (exact old, similar),  Moccasins\Minnetonka (exact),  Watch\Urban Outfitters (exact)

It's supposed to snow here tomorrow, but I'm going to keep wearing my moccasins until my toes are ice cubes. 

We hope you all have fun weekend plans! Check back Sunday for a yummy breakfast recipe that is perfect for Thanksgiving morning!

xo, Sarah

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Caramel Beershake

What's better than ice cream? Beer. What's better than beer? Ice cream. (Sarah has informed me that this doesn't make sense, but I don't care). What's better than that? Beer and ice cream! Sarah and I are always looking for new and interesting beer varieties to pick up and try, but once our budget started tightening up, we decided to skip on buying more beer and started looking for creative ways to mix up what we already had. One day, we stumbled upon someone online making a Samuel Adams OctoberFest Milkshake, and we decided to try it! Let me tell you: pure. deliciousness. For this recipe, all we did was sub out the OctoberFest, and used what we had on hand: Sierra Nevada Tumbler (a fantastic autumn brown ale)!

Here's what you need to make it:

- Caramel syrup
- Vanilla extract
- Vanilla ice cream
- A bottle of beer

Luckily for us, we have one of these handy-dandy-single-serving-magic-bullet-type blenders that is perfect for smoothies, milkshakes, etc.

This is where the recipe goes pretty much full improvisation. I like to fill up my blending cup to the top with ice cream, and fill it in with as much beer that I can fit in the cup. I then put in about 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract, and "some" caramel syrup (it's all up to you). After I blend it the first time and the ingredients reduce in the glass, I repeat: more ice cream, more beer, more syrup, skip the vanilla extract (a little goes a long way).

That's it! Depending on whether you want more of your beer flavor to come through, or if you want it sweeter will depend on how you mix up this recipe.

This super delicious treat is also super customizable. What kind of beer do you think would be good in a milkshake? Share your thoughts with us!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Skull Bookends

Nick and I love books. We both read a lot, but we don't like borrowing books from other people or the library, nor do we have a Kindle/Nook/etc. We both really enjoy holding a book in our hands and putting it on our bookshelves once we're finished reading it.

This year especially, our book collection has grown a lot (hello, cheap Goodwill books!) and we're starting to run out of room on our shelves. We have two fireplaces in our apartment, so we have a lot of mantle space that is perfect for displaying books. Like I mentioned in our Skull String Art post, we have a bit of a thing for skulls right now, so when I saw DIY skull bookends on The Band Wife blog, I thought, "I MUST HAVE THESE NOW." I was super pumped to make these awesome bookends and clear up some space on our bookshelves. Definitely a win-win.

Luckily for us, Halloween decorations were still in full swing when we decided to work on this project, so finding the skull was easy peasy. The Band Wife has a great tutorial here, but this is how we made ours! (Also, I apologize for the lack of photos. We made these in our pre-blogging days!)

You need:
- A skull
- A thin piece of wood (Our is about 1/8" thick)
- Wood glue
- White spray paint

Here's what you do!

1) Cut your skull in half down the middle. We suggest marking the middle of the skull with a pencil before you start cutting. Nick cut our skull with a jab saw, but he recommends using a hack saw or something with finer teeth. Also, this process makes a lot of dust so you should probably do it outside.

2) Cut your piece of wood to the size you choose. We cut two 4"x6" pieces. 3) Spray paint your wood and your skull. It may be easier to glue your skull pieces to the boards first, but I sprayed ours separately. Both the boards and the skull required a few coats of paint to cover completely. Make sure you get into all of the nooks and crannies of the skull for even paint coverage. 4) After your paint is completely dry, use wood glue to glue the skull halves to your wood bases. Use heavy objects to hold the skulls in place until they dry.

Once your glue is completely dry and your skull halves are secure, you're ready to display them! We used ours to display the Harry Potter series on our living room mantle. I think they look pretty great. Even though skulls can convey a Halloween theme, our bookends definitely will be on our mantle year-round.

This project has really inspired us to think of other creative bookends we can make. What would you use for your bookends? Share with us in the comments!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pumpkin Roll Cupcakes

It pretty much goes without saying, but one of the best things about fall is PUMPKIN EVERYTHING.

Growing up, I looked forward to fall for so many reasons and my aunt's pumpkin roll is definitely on that list. A few years ago, I decided I would attempt to make my own pumpkin roll. I'd say it turned out pretty good for a first attempt. It definitely tasted great, but it wasn't exactly pretty or easy to do.

Pumpkin roll making is definitely an art.

After my less-than-spectacular pumpkin roll experience, I decided that since I'm much more of a cupcake kinda gal anyway, I would have the best of both worlds and make pumpkin roll cupcakes!

Yep, these are delish. Here's what you need!

For the cupcakes:
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. baking
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 eggs

For the frosting:
- 8 oz. softened cream cheese
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners sugar

Here's what you do!
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and fill a muffin tin with cupcake liners
- Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg
- Mix in pumpkin puree and eggs
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake 15-20 minutes. Insert a toothpick into one of the cupcakes to ensure they are fully baked

- Mix together softened cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar, and vanilla to make frosting (Helpful Tip! Take your cream cheese and butter out of the fridge several hours before baking so they have plenty of time to soften)
- Once cupcakes have cooled about 20 minutes, frost them any which way you choose! (We went with the amateur Ziploc bag style)
- Store cupcakes in the fridge or freezer

If you're feeling ambitious and think you'd like to tackle the pumpkin roll, do it! I didn't make any changes to this recipe other than putting it in a muffin tin. If you want to make a pumpkin roll, use a 9x13" greased cookie sheet instead. When the cake is done baking, you roll it up into a towel and let it cool for 20 minutes. Then you unroll it, frost it, and roll it up again. Wrap it in plastic wrap immediately and store it in the fridge or freezer.

IMPORTANT: These are definitely beard approved.


Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Magazine Strip Wall Art

If our last post was any indicator, I love chevron. Chevron is everywhere right now, including our apartment. So a few months ago on Pinterest, I saw chevron wall art made out of magazine strips glued onto a white canvas. My first thought was that these were pretty awesome, but my second thought was, "Why should I spend money on canvases when I can make these right now with shoe box lids?!" So that's what I did.

I made the two box lids below to hang in my office at work. I love them so much and making them was so easy that I decided to make three more to hang in our apartment. Luckily for me I had plenty of shoe box lids lying around since I put that ModCloth discount to good use...

Here's what you need to make these for your home!
- Shoe box lids (I prefer mine to be white, so I spray paint them if need be)
- Magazines
- Ruler
- Scissors
- Mod Podge

1) Flip through magazines for colors/patterns you like. Use a ruler to mark your cutting lines. I made my strips 4" long and used the width of my ruler as the width of the strips. 2) Cut out your strips. 3) Once finished cutting out all the strips, lay them out in a pattern you like.

4) Use Mod Modge to glue your strips to the box lid in your desired pattern, leaving a small space between each strip. Remember to continue your strips on the sides of the box lid as well.

5) Once all strips are glued to the box lid, coat the entire lid in Mod Podge. Apply a second coat once the first coat of Mod Podge is completely dry. After both coats are dry, you're done and ready to hang!

This project is super simple and can be done in just a few hours (including dry time). I think our box lids add a fun, original flare to our living room. But here's the best part... making these cost us NOTHING. We had all of the items needed for our box lids already on hand. You know what they say (they meaning Nick and I)... the best projects in life are free!

Do you have any free project ideas? Share your ideas in the comments!

Sarah & Nick

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chevron + Booties

Once upon a time, which was actually this past summer, Nick worked for ModCloth, an online women's clothing store that is headquartered in Pittsburgh. If you're familiar with ModCloth then you may know that they sell incredibly adorable clothes, but may be a little out of the price range for someone on the student-loan-payback budget.

I personally had never shopped at ModCloth for this exact reason, but when the words "employee discount" were thrown into the mix, I was willing to make an exception.

So ModCloth is where I snagged this beaut. A blue and white belted chevron dress that is probably on Pinterest boards across America. I seriously love this dress. The length, the bold print, the sleeves, the color... Need I say more?

And then! Paired with these booties! Ahh!

The booties were a spur of the moment purchase from Charlotte Russe. I bought them during one of CR's online "Happy Hour" sales where all boots were $20. Score. They're definitely becoming my favorite pair of boots because they look great with jeans, but can also be worn with dresses/skirts as well.

Caught off guard. Thanks, Nick

Dress\ModCloth (exact no longer available, similar),  Booties\Charlotte Russe (exact no longer available, similar),  Key Bracelet\ModCloth (exact no longer available, similar)

So far I've only worn this outfit to work, but I can't wait to wear it out and about sometime. Perhaps a date night with Nick?

xo, Sarah