Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Peanut Butter & Jelly Overnight Oats

Anything Sarah and I can do to make our lives easier and our meal preparation quicker, we are willing to try. Overnight oats are a perfect example of streamlining your meal preparation. Perfect for breakfast, these oats are filling, satisfying, sweet, savory, and of course super easy! Peanut butter overnight oats are nothing new, so Sarah and I decided to take it all the way and make it a full blown PB&J!

Here's what you need (recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker):
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp. agave nectar
- 2 tbsp. peanut butter
- 1 tbsp. jelly or jam of your choice
- 1/2 - 1 tbsp. chia seeds
- Fruit of your choice for topping (optional)

Here's what you do:
- Add the peanut butter, chia seeds, jelly, milk, and agave in your glass, and stir gently to combine. (It's okay to leave chunks of peanut butter and jelly!)
- Add the oats and mix once more until all the oats are saturated and submerged.
- Cover with a lid or plastic wrap.
- Place in refrigerator over night, or at least 6 hours or so.
- Top with fruit of your choice and enjoy!

The peanut butter and jelly combination in this dish translates perfectly to what you'd expect from your childhood favorite sandwich. I love the balance of the bitterness of the chia seeds, the earthiness of the oats, and the sweetness of the jelly. Even though many people eat their overnight oats straight out of the refrigerator in the AM, I like to pop mine in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, just to take the chill off.

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cinnamon Heart Ornaments

It's Christmas Eve Eve! We're both so excited to have some time off over the holidays so we can relax with friends and get ourselves ready for 2016!

A few days ago when we were cleaning the apartment for my mom's arrival, we decided to whip up some of these cinnamon heart ornaments. I don't think I ever made these as a child, but I remember seeing a few cinnamon ornaments on our tree each year. They're super easy to make and they make your kitchen smell delicious, so we wanted to share the process with you!

Here's what you need!
- 1/2 cup cinnamon
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- Cookie cutters or Xacto knife
- Baking sheet
- Wax paper or silpat mat
- Skewer or pencil to make hole
- Twine or string

Here's what you do!
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together applesauce and cinnamon, a little bit at a time. Your dough should be REALLY well combined and not too wet. You may need more cinnamon/less applesauce to achieve desired consistency.
- On a sheet of wax paper, roll out dough to 1/4" thick. Use your cookie cutters or Xacto knife to cut out shapes. We don't have a small heart cookie cutter, but using an Xacto knife worked just fine for us!
- Transfer hearts to a wax paper or silpat lined cookie sheet. If the edges are a little rough, smooth them out with your finger. Using a skewer or pencil, make a small hole in each heart.
- Bake cinnamon hearts in the oven for 1.5 hours and allow to cool completely before handling. Then string a piece of twine through them and you're done!

These hearts would be so cute on a tree, tied to a present, or you could make a garland out of them! Even though Christmas is almost here you definitely have time to make a batch before the holiday festivities!

We won't have a new post for you on Friday, so we'll be back on Monday with our regularly scheduled MWF posts. We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday with friends and family! And thank you, as always, for your support of The Surznick Common Room. We're so grateful for our readers and we're looking forward to sharing awesome new content in 2016!

Sarah & Nick

Monday, December 14, 2015

'Home Alone' Inspired Doormat

For 25 years, there has been one ultimate, reigning champion holiday movie: Home Alone. Stacked with perfect one-liners, this movie has been a reference point for me and Christmas for my entire life. Here is a brief list of a few of the things that make this movie so perfect: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, John Williams, Chris Columbus, John Hughes, Pizza, Buzz's girlfriend (woof), Pepsi, Fuller not going easy on said Pepsi, "I am upstairs, dummy," and of course, "Keep the change, ya filthy animal." (The list goes on and on...)

A while back, we made this DIY Welcome Mat for Holl & Lane Magazine, and we immediately had about a billion more ideas for a doormat using this same technique. Finally, we settled on this design for the winter season. Let's be clear, this isn't exactly a "quick and easy" project, but this is a really fun project, and you can do it yourself too!

Here's what you need:
- Outdoor furniture paint (can't find black online, we bought ours in store)
- Cardboard for stencil
- Scissors
- Blank printer paper
- Pen/pencil

Here's what you do:
- Decide on your design and plan it out in a Word document. We knew we wanted our mat to say "Keep the change ya filthy animal," so I used Helvetica font at about size 425 to type out "K, E, P, T, H, C, A, N, G, Y, F, I, L, and M." and printed them out.
- Cut out all your letters.
- Using your box cutter, cut your cardboard to fit the size of your doormat.

- Plan out where you want your letters to go on your cardboard and trace them with a pencil.
- After all your letters/designs are traced onto the cardboard, use your Xacto knife to carefully cut them all out.
- Now you're ready to paint! Align your stencil on your mat, and tape it on so it doesn't move and begin filling in your stencil with paint. Be prepared to get messy! The paint we used (linked above) is EXTREMELY thick (4x thicker than regular paint). The first coat I put on the mat I just "dab" the brush on the mat so it starts to cover and harden.
- Allow paint to dry and add a second coat. On my second coat, I am able to do more of a brushing motion so it covers much better.
- Allow to dry completely and put it outside!

I already cannot wait for our next pizza delivery so we can take this bad boy for a spin! (Should only be about six hours or so, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!)

Sarah & Nick

Monday, December 7, 2015

Staples Holiday Cards & Gifts

This year marks eight Christmases together for Nick and I. Eight!!! You'd think that somewhere along the line we would have decided to send out holiday cards, but we never have before. Better late than never, right?

We teamed up with Staples for their #MoreThisHoliday campaign to show that ordering your holiday cards, envelopes, gifts, and more is as easy as hopping over to! We used the Staples Copy & Print services to order our holiday cards, gift tags, and a couple special presents for my best gal pal! From start to finish, the process was a breeze. We just had to upload a few photos, hit order, and our creations were on their way!

Let's start with our cards. Staples has a HUGE selection of holiday card templates in a variety of sizes and colors. As soon as we spotted the 'Christmas Wonderment' card in their Signature collection, we knew it would be perfect match for our photo!

After you select your card template, you can customize your card with your photos and the text you want on the back or inside. We decided to leave the inside of our cards blank so that we can write personal messages to our friends and family. When the cards arrived in the mail, we were so pleased with how they turned out! The quality is fantastic and we're so excited to get these guys in the mail!

The photo we used on the front of our card was snapped by best friend, Bethany, when she visited from Alaska recently. We don't get to see each other very often, so as a thank you to her for visiting and for letting us use one of her beautiful photos on our card, I wanted to order her something special from Staples as well!

Bethany is a photographer, so we used a couple of her photos to create fun 10x14" puzzles (surprise, B!) Staples offers a ton of unique gift ideas that you can customize with a photo and/or text. In addition to the puzzles, we love the coasters, drinkware, and variety of wall art options they have. We didn't go as far as putting together the puzzles (that'll be Bethany's job!) but we both can't wait to see how they turn out!

Before we get the puzzles on their way to Alaska, we had to wrap them up! I think one of the most overlooked items when it comes to gift wrapping are the tags. Nick and I used the address label templates on to create custom gift tags. Instead of filling in our address for the customizable text, we added "To" and "From" lines instead. They turned out great, right?

The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Between the general busyness of this season and the pressure to find the perfect gift, it's easy to lose sight of what's important. Nick and I can't wait to relax and spend time together this Christmas, but we also love giving meaningful gifts to our friends and family. Staples makes it so easy to create personal gifts at a great price.

You can save even more this holiday season when using promo code HOLIDAY20 to save 20% when ordering your custom holiday cards, calendars, and invitations or promo code JOLLY20 to save 20% when ordering custom photo gifts. (Both codes expire 12/26!)

We hope that this post inspires you to do #MoreThisHoliday season!

Sarah & Nick

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ithaca, NY

Sarah and I have been super fortunate to be able to travel around a lot lately. Our most recent excursion took us up to the Finger Lakes in Ithaca, NY. Typically, as soon as we know where we'll be heading, we immediately get online and research the best stuff to do, take in as many friend recommendations as we can possibly get, and try to jam it all in to a whirlwind 24 hours. The results never disappoint!

Angry Mom Records
Angry Mom Records was a record store for which we received multiple recommendations. We weren't exactly in a position to be spending money on new records, so we didn't map it out before we left. However, we just happened to stumble past the storefront about 7 minutes after arriving to Ithaca. So naturally, we went in, we browsed, and we purchased (duh... you can't pass up Blonde on Blonde when you see it for $8 at an awesome record store!)

Sarah's Patisserie
It doesn't take much exploring before Sarah and I feel the need to eat some cookies and drink a cup of coffee (or several). Sarah's Patisserie is the perfect spot right near the Ithaca city center for some really fine, delicious macarons. This was my first time ever having a macaron made with chilies, and it definitely won't be my last.

Hopshire Farm and Brewery
Anytime we visit a new place, our brewery radar is always on high alert. Obviously, we knew we'd be visiting Ithaca Brewing, but we wanted to sniff out another operation to visit as well. Upon a friend's recommendation, we headed 10 minutes out of town to Hopshire Farm and Brewery. For just $6 you can get a pretty generous pour of EVERY beer on tap. If you're up in Ithaca, do this for sure. It's a great deal, and the beers are pretty delicious!

Random Book Barn (Phoenix Books)
Stumbling upon random little finds is my favorite. This inexplicable "book barn" was just down the road from Hopshire Farm. Initially, we just stopped to take photos of the barn, but once we approached, we discovered that the porch was jam packed with books to browse, with a note that said "All books on the porch are free." Um.... yes.

Buttermilk Falls
Buttermilk Falls was one of two seriously beautiful state parks featuring waterfalls that we visited on this trip. The photos pretty much speak for themselves. Even though the nature up in Ithaca was beautiful, I would be lying if I didn't see a lot of it as just another excuse to play with my new camera.

Ithaca Beer Co.
By this point, all this waterfall scenery was making me thirsty, and it had already been over an HOUR since drinking beers at Hopshire Farm, so we needed to get to our next brewery STAT. Knowing we only had one shot at visiting Ithaca Beer Co, we had to make it count. So we called up an old friend of ours who has spent the last three years working for the brewery. We had a great time catching up, enjoying some brews, trying all the french fry dips, and we were even treated to a private tour of the facility. It's good to know people on the inside!

Moosewood Restaurant
This super vegetarian-friendly restaurant was far and away the destination most recommended to us. Made famous for their cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant offers an ever-changing, fresh menu that draws people in from all over. Our meals were certainly as delicious as we were expecting!

The Halsey House B&B
Much of our time in Ithaca was spent at our beautiful B&B, the Halsey House. You can read all about our stay here. Typically, I would want to check into our hotel, and get out of there as quickly as possible so we can have more time to roam, but it's hard to leave a place as unique as The Halsey House. I easily could have stayed there all weekend. It is beautiful, comfortable, relaxing and amazing. If you ever need a weekend away, stay at The Halsey House, you won't regret it.

Taughannock Falls
Stunningly beautiful waterfall #2 did not disappoint. The image of this waterfall was in my mind from the moment we knew we were visiting the Finger Lakes, and I was extremely excited to finally see it in person. We didn't take the trail all the way back to stand at the base of the fall, but we did see it from the overlook point. Walking up to that overlook was a fantastic experience. Again, the photos speak for themselves (yet don't come close to doing the live scene justice).

Cornell University Campus
The last thing on our list we wanted to check off quickly before heading out of town was to track down the Nard-Dog. We swung by the Cornell University campus to make some quick jokes about Andy Bernard, snap some pictures, and be able to say "I went to Cornell." Mission accomplished.

Southern Tier Brewing
Of course, we had to take advantage of driving across southern New York and hit up my all time favorite brewery: Southern Tier Brewing in Lakewood, NY. Heading up to Southern Tier to stock up on some cheap bottles of some of the most delicious beers (think Pumking, Creme Brulee, Krampus, Choklat, 2XMass) is an annual tradition of ours, so it was super convenient to just stop by on our way home! It's also a perfect spot for some quick and delicious grub.

Here's to the next great adventure, whatever that may be!

Sarah & Nick