freebie

Hey friends! As part of the last day of my Christmas #12DaysofSugaredFig promos,
I wanted to gift you guys with free (originally) hand-lettered Christmas tags! 

Simply click the link below, and you can download a pdf of the 5 gift tags.
Trim around the tags and punch a whole and you're set!  

Click HERE for your downloadable PDF!

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christmas

As part of my #12DaysofSugaredFig Christmas series, I wanted to not only give discounts and freebies, but also provide my followers/subscribers some useful ideas!

And once again, I post pictures of our apartment with its respective seasonal decor.  Unlike last year, I really wanted to make this year's Christmas decor post helpful to you. Here's why.

I have been pretty intentional about our Christmas decor this year. The premise was to keep our Christmas box small (We have no storage space) and to use a lot of perishable items as decor- I think it makes everything much more homey!! Sources are tagged below the pictures, and I have provided some quick tutorials throughout. 

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Simple poinsettia tapestry (with my design!): Society 6

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The small Christmas box concept really exists because of our tree. We have no ornaments. This saves tons of space, and it's very VERY cheap! Last year, I bought a ton of potted white faux poinsettias from Michaels for $3 a piece (each plant contained 5 flowers!), some white hydrangeas, roses, and some filler. I wrapped a simple white flower garland around the tree to create the right shape, then poked in the flowers! 

For the stockings, since we don't have a fire place, I just found a stick on the ground outside and hung the stockings on them- a decoration I can just throw away in January! Cute and easy.

flowers: Michaels
our stockings: Ebay and Something Bold (Etsy)
Theo's stocking: Target

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Okay, as you can tell, I had the MOST fun decorating the piano. I like to think of it as our makeshift mantle. I take decorating this piano seriously. Kept the classic white candles, added some garland, white porcelain houses, bottlebrush trees (green, white, and tan), and the new addition this year.... the macrame garland!! I thought of this garland idea in September and ordered from this cheap Etsy shop in Spain, and it arrived late October! 

white porcelain homes: Target (dollar section)
macrame garland: Mis Lanas Creativas (Etsy)
bottlebrush trees: Michaels, Joann Fabric, also they sell really cute ones at Magnolia

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I'll probably add more to the wreath wall. But here it is for the time being. 

Tutorial: Grab inexpensive wreaths and embellish them according to your style! I got this green wreath at Magnolia Market after New Year's for 75% (such a good call!) and added a silk ribbon bow. The smaller wreath was from Michaels, and I hot-glued white/cream fake flowers to it.

wreaths: Magnolia Market (no longer sold...), Michaels
ribbon: Silk and Willow

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More perishables!! Fresh garland and dried oranges. I still don't own any fake garland because I always just use the garland from Trader Joe's! $6.99 for 15' of garland. Seriously??! And you don't have to store it afterwards! Add some Target dollar section twinkly lights and ah!

Also, dried oranges. The easiest, coziest decoration in my opinion. It also brings back a vintage feel. My grandmother would tell us about what Christmas was like for her mother during the depression era, and how citrus was the greatest delicacy! They may have received a delivery of one or two during the whole season! My grandma still makes us "Ambrosia" at Christmas to keep on the tradition- a simple citrus salad with coconut. SO good. 

Dried Citrus Tutorial:
1. Slice oranges pretty thin, but not too thin or they may overcook
2. Place on baking sheets and cook at 200 for 4 hours.
3. Lay out to dry overnight on drying racks.
4. String together with baker's twine and a yarn needle!

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Had to have a classic Spode tree somewhere.

Kitchen Towel and Rug: Tuesday Morning

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Another annual TJs purchase! Fresh swag.

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Alex made one request and it was to have a Nativity, which I definitely did not oppose! I looked forever for a raw wood one like this, and then stumbled upon one at Joann Fabrics!

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Y'all, my favorite calendar ever, the Cook's Illustrated "Farmer's Market" Calendar is for sale again for 2018! Only $15, but they run sales all the time. Source below.  I have loved the artwork for each month of 2017, and it brought me so much excitement each month when I flipped the page, that Alex wouldn't let me look ahead. It had to be a surprise every time! So worth it. I already have my 2018 one (with all new artwork) under the cabinet, ready to be pulled out!

farmer's market calendar: Calendars.com

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Last, let me advertise my own stuff a little bit. Hanging prints to spruce up a wall- oh yeah!

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autumn

 
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Last Autumn, when I was teaching middle school math, I experienced some of my lowest moments, but those lows also brought out some of the sweetest highs. It was the first time I had ever truly appreciated the change of the seasons. It's hard for me to explain, but even the littlest things like the trees outside our apartment turning bright orange or a light breeze brought me joy because it contrasted so much with the feelings about my job. 

This autumn is much different. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm working from home (my couch) full time, painting designs and corresponding with brides about 12 hours a day. The contrast is so extreme that I have had to take some time to adjust. I felt so guilty for awhile, because it didn't seem right that I had to suffer so much for a year, and now burst out of bed at the crack of dawn with the birds chirping and a sparkle in my eye, excited about the day ahead! I just KNOW God is blessing me. He gave me the strength to get through the roughest year of my life, and I feel abundantly rewarded for persevering.  I don't know... maybe He's not. But I like to believe He is.

Working from home and for yourself definitely is a learning process. For me, it's having to restrain myself from working nonstop from when I wake up to when I go to bed. Alex has had to help me a lot with that. My dad, a business owner himself, has said that working for yourself is hard because there's always something you can do to better your business. You could fill every second of your time brainstorming new ideas, social media marketing strategies, creating new content, etc., and being the overly ambitious person I am, I basically can't say no to any business idea. This year has and will be a learning experience- not checking my email as much as I want, NOT checking instagram as much as I want, things like that. 

Having a little more time this year to do things that I love, I got to craft and paint for fun a little more, so here's a little fall decor for ya!

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renew

Not only do I have three younger sisters, but I have three younger sisters who are extremely creative and talented... and MUCH cooler than me. They inspire me and they bring so much beauty into my life. They always went along with my grand plans to put on a musical for our parents or transform the upstairs bathroom into a spa.

This past month, one of my sisters, Kalin, got on board another one of these grand plans. Kalin is an amazing calligrapher and we combined our skills to create a new line of wedding suites for Sugared Fig! For this collaboration, I created a whole new section on my website called "Formal Suites" as her calligraphy gravitates towards the more elegant style that is so prevalent in the wedding paper world than my typical (more whimsical) designs.

We have received many questions about our new things, so we opened it up to you guys. Our little Q&A is below!

Q & A

1. How did you get started?

Claire: Probably farther back than you wanted, but I started painting oil paintings with my grandmother when I was 8. She taught me how to create reflections in water and how to paint flower petals impressionistically. Flash forward middle school- I made a few websites for fun and played around with graphic design programs. In high school I started designing custom stationery for friends, and my junior and senior year, designed all of the school dance invitations for our high school. In college, I began to delve into the wedding world, with one of my first hand-painted suites being my own. My style has remained very hand-painted, whimsical, and a little more informal, but I decided to collaborate with my younger calligraphy-extraordinaire sister, Kalin, for my recent release so that I was able to offer two styles.

Kalin: I began practicing calligraphy when I asked for and received a beginner's calligraphy kit for Christmas in 2015. It honestly didn't help me learn- if anything, I lost hope in learning calligraphy! Later I learned that it was simply because I didn't have the right tools. Later the next year, however, I was asked by Claire to help her with a place card and envelope order. I remember loving it so much and never wanting to quit. But when looking back at the photos of them, I cringe. From that point, I made an Instagram account so I could post my creations, and now I'm here! 

2. I don't get good quality out of my printer at home. What printer do you use/how do you print your stuff?

I rarely print from home. My family has owned and run a printing business for over 40 years, so it's a family affair! We print all of our digitally-printed orders on fancy printers, so I pride myself in the high quality printing we offer. So many brides are surprised when they receive samples in the mail at how crisp our printing is. My dad (the owner of our printing company) is the greatest asset to my business, and I love how we talk on the phone daily- we call each other "Barts!" (short for business partners... I know... it's weird). Sorry, went off on a tangent, but all that to say, I think what makes Sugared Fig unique is how we don't have to outsource our printing, which keeps this process much more intimate for my clients. I also don't hand-feed the printing at home, which allows me much more time to create quality designs. My dad always tells me "You never want to spend your time doing production! That's not where you time is best spent."

3. Do you use watercolor?

Not on most of my designs. On almost all of my semi-formal suites, I use a mixture of acrylic and gouache. On a few suites (those with a watercolor dip style or The Eliza) I do use watercolor for a more formal, light design. I was not trained on watercolor, so I'm a little bit more wary of using it, but I have learned that it is more forgiving when it comes to painting flowers- so it is a great method of painting for beginners!

4. Where did you get your styling board?

These boards can cost upwards of $85, so Kalin and I made them. With a little plaster, paint, and sponges, it was a trial-and-error. 

5. What kind of nib do you use?

For the semi-formal suites, I use ProCreate on my iPad Pro.

For the formal suites, Kalin uses the Hiro Leonardt #41.

6. Where do you get your props?

Around the house, my mimi's house, flowers foraged or bought. Really, all dishes, are random antiques I've found. Ribbons have come from Silk & Willow, Honey Silks Co, and Frou Frou Chic. 

Thanks for all of the questions we have received from you- it was a joy answering them! As always, if you have any more inquiries or ideas, simply message me on the contact page!

mother

I remember this one Mother's Day when my sisters and I had planned to surprise our mom with breakfast in bed. Like all of my schemes as a child, it was over-planned down to the detail of the sliced orange that would be placed on the rim of her glass. I made a menu and we went over the game plan the night before. The next morning, I got up extra early and went to the kitchen to get out the frying pan so that I could make the eggs- I don't even know if I was old enough to make eggs, but I did it. With all of the planning and micromanaging, I forgot the fact that my mom was a mother. The type of super human that can hear EVERY sound in the house, especially the sounds that shouldn't be occurring at times like in the middle of the night (baby crying) or early in the morning (four little girls banging around pans in the kitchen). So, to my disappointment, she walked in the kitchen and our plan was foiled! Even though the "breakfast in bed" was the whole goal of the gift, I was distraught that she found out the surprise... it seemed even more important that she be awoken to a perfectly prepared and designed breakfast tray. Oh well. If that gives you a glimpse into who I am, it's a pretty accurate representation of the perfectionism that I still suffer from today.

In honor of our sometimes flawed breakfasts in bed, I decided to mail my mom a "Breakfast in Bed" themed basket for Mother's Day. The basket included some perishables - Almond Butter Granola, Bonzai Melon, Blackberry Preserves -  a kitchen towel, and who doesn't love a good knockoff Volcano candle?! The sources are listed below the photos. Also, to download the simplistic Mother's Day card, simply click the link!

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Natural Wood Mini Picnic Basket | Michaels
French Vanilla Coffee | Trader Joe's
Linen Striped Kitchen Towel | Home Goods
Almond Butter Granola | Trader Joe's
Candle | Marshalls
Lemon Green Tea | Central Market

Free Downloadable Mother's Day Card!

amore

For the past five years, it has become a tradition for Alex and I to share a Valentines Day breakfast. It started in the freshman dorms when I woke up at 5am to make strawberry muffins, heart-shaped bacon, and strawberry milk. I get it from my mom. She always surprised me and my sisters on Valentines Day morning with red and pink (in every aspect) breakfasts, with each detail meticulously planned out, and flawlessly executed. I am only starting to approach her level of festive breakfast-making, but I have loved continuing this tradition! This year, we celebrated on Saturday (bc teaching takes away my mornings) but it allowed for a slow, love song playlist-filled morning. And this year, I wanted to share my brunch menu with you!

Main Entrée
Lemon Mascarpone-Filled Crepes
topped with Strawberry Fig Preserves

Sides
Citrus Salad drizzled with Honey
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Drinks
Blood Orange Mimosas
French Press Coffee

If you feel inspired to make any of these, here are some quick directions!

Crepes: 
Make crepe mix from scratch. For filling, whip together 1 cup of Lemon Curd, 3/4 cup of whipping cream, and 1 cup of mascarpone. Strawberry Fig preserves were homemade with my Mimi. Garnish with strawberries, fresh figs, and mint leaves.

Citrus Salad:
Slice the peel off of any citrus fruits of your choosing! I love to make this salad really colorful, so I usually try to by some navel oranges, grapefruit, blood oranges, and white grapefruit. Then slice into little rounds and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with honey.

Rosemary Potatoes:
Dice baby golden and purple potatoes. Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Mix together with 2 tbsp freshly minced rosemary, sea salt, and pepper. Roast in oven for 45 min at 425 F.

Blood Orange Mimosas:
I found some blood orange soda from World Market and combined with champagne. Squeeze a little fresh blood orange juice and garnish with mint leaves.

As far as Valentines decor, I just bought myself (oops) some fresh springy flowers and put them anywhere I could in the house... yall I'm dying for it to be spring.  Hung up some two-toned roses over our loveseat, then I revamped my white Christmas village by hot glueing silk pink flowers, and creating mini wreaths. 

Lastly, I've created a freebie downloadable 4x6 V-day card for your sweetie that I will put up by tomorrow!  For those people who forget what day it is like every day and then don't have a valentines day card, so they hurriedly print one off the computer- that was me last year. 

xoxo
claire

gifting

Last Christmas, my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law all bought my gift tags. On Christmas morning when the women of the family distributed the gifts, we giggled because we had all found interesting ways to wrap the gifts incorporating the tags (with fake berries, flowers, raffia..) instead of the traditional ribbon and bow. The men all rolled their eyes and thought we were ridiculous :)

But hey! That's the benefit of hand-painted gift tags. They help make wrapping gifts more fun, because we all know that giving gifts is so much fun but wrapping all 50 of them can get tiresome.

Above are some simple (and very cheap!) ideas for creatively wrapping gifts, using a few of my gift tags!

I just bought some various Christmas greens such as pine needles (recycled from my piano garland), rosemary, and Central Market sells the trimmings from the fresh Christmas trees they sell **. Wrap it up with some cute baker's twine and all done! The tags include black striped baker's twine, which also goes great with any creative gift-wrapping ideas you come up with.

** These greens last a long time! I have had presents wrapped under the tree with them for over a week and they don't look a day old! ;)

seasonal

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I've been dreaming of a white Christmas, but as my fellow Texans, know - it ain't happenin. Therefore, I brought the essence of a snowy Christmas inside! The past week has been super dreary and rainy, so I quickly snapped a few pictures of our seasonal decor today as the sun peaked through the clouds for a brief second. 

I've also been dreaming up floral Christmas trees for years, and now that we were able to afford (and fit a taller than 1 foot) Christmas tree, those dreams came true! White poinsettias, hydrangeas and roses wrap around the tree, and I put up two pictures of this because I can't decide whether I like lights on or off more. 

For the overall decor, I wanted a very natural, thrown-together look, so to Trader Joe's I went! They sell amazing pine/fir garlands and swags- for $6 or less! I told Alex we can't ever move anywhere where there isn't a Trader Joe's. Instead of a wreath on the front door, I really wanted something non-traditional, so I put together a swag and finished it off with a bow cut out of some scrap silk fabric. 

There are many other Christmas projects and crafts in the works, as well as some digital downloads I'm going to offer in the next few weeks. Also, be looking out for another blog post this week with DIY Christmas wrapping ideas using Sugared Fig Christmas gift tags!

christmas cards

This past weekend two big things happened for Sugared Fig. It was my third craft fair this past year, and wow! Fort Worth sure does love local makers and these people are SO supportive. I met so many wonderful people and made many new clients!! Check out my insta for a video of my booth.

Second, I released my 2016 Christmas Card Line. I so appreciate all the love these cards have received! They were a joy to make, mostly because it gave me an excuse to drink apple cider and listen to Christmas music on repeat for hours to give me "inspiration."

Thanksgiving is exactly a week away, and I am still shipping out Thanksgiving table setting orders, so snatch those up quickly before it's too late. All Christmas card orders placed by Thanksgiving day will be shipped to you by the first week of December! 

Shop Christmas cards @ my Etsy store

dwelling

With a few days left til November **and Christmas decor on the horizon** I figured I should document how our little home looks with minimal autumn decor. This year, for the interior design of our home, I went for a simplistic, organic, neutral style with midcentury/antique touches. If you know me, you know I've gone through many interior design phases in my life. Middle school began the pink and zebra phase, then during high school I redesigned my bedroom "shabby chic." Once I got to college, my taste in design shifted to a more mature, vintage look, though sometimes it turned grandma-y. After getting married, our first home was sort of a combination of vintage, eclectic, and slightly farmhouse-inspired... but I quickly got tired of that. I've learned that all of those styles (vintage, rustic, farmhouse, etc.) so quickly become overdone, so I have grown to love a classic, neutral canvas, leaving room for interesting details and touches here and there. Here are some photos I took of our home, sources tagged below. 

Linen Bedding- Anthropologie, Kilim Pillow- hali.erde, Yarn Macrame- handmade by meLamps-antiques

Flax Sofa- Rooms to Go, White Linen Pillows- IKEA, Gold Glass Cage- World Market

Chair and Blanket- Target, Pillows- IKEA, Gold Lamp- IKEA

Wreath- Michaels, Woven Basket- World Market

 Note the cute little painting of figs, painted by my lovely grandmother :)

Fact: Mr. Meyer's Apple Cider hand/dish soap has kept me sane this season. It's magical. 

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Table- found while thrifting, Oriental Rug- Overstock.com

Here are Sugared Fig Headquarters! Our rather HUGE office is perfect for Alex and I to share. I have taken over this half, and his desk lies on the opposite wall. This IKEA shelf has been absolutely perfect, housing much of my art supplies, sample products, and some inventory. 

Because Alex's desk isn't very interesting to look at, here's our bookshelf on the other wall of the office ;) Which reminds me- my latest obsession has been playing every hymn I can think of on the uke using the only four chords I know. Alex finds it amusing, I think...

Have a restful rest of your Sunday, and Happy Halloween!

- Claire

 

styled shoot

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For this shoot, we were inspired by the beautiful blank canvas which we were provided, hill country venue, Hadora Ranch. With its rich, white stone exterior and vintage interior, we went for a moody, botanical, autumn vibe. We incorporated deep burgundy, creams, pinks, tons of greenery, and hints of copper. Adrienne, the florist, and I worked hand-in-hand on the table styling. We created two different table settings- we wanted the table styling to exhibit a stark contrast between the romantic metallics and the organics (florals and fruit). Of course, in addition to the styling, I created all of the paper/text items for the shoot. The invitation suite, menus, and place cards were printed on 100% cotton textured paper with beautiful deckled edges. Copper touches were brought in through the copper invitation envelope, and the calligraphy on the invitations and place cards. The cake additionally brought in these deep hues with the drizzled caramel, dark grapes, blackberries, and figs. Of course, there had to be figs. Adrienne's florals were dramatic and whimsical, and they incorporated unique flowers. She created centerpieces, the bouquet, boutonnière, flower crown, gorgeous arbor, and a floral swag. Our makeup/hair team were phenomenal, and they truly captured the vibe we had envisioned in the styling of our models. 

Though the afternoon was over in the blink of an eye, and with the experience came many last-minute decisions and mishaps, we all agreed our team was the best ever and we created something that we're so proud of.

Photography: PhotobyJoy
Florals & Styling: Adrienne Adamson Designs
Invitations, Calligraphy, Cake, & Styling: Sugared Fig Paperie
Venue: Hadora Ranch
Model: Delaney LeCroy
Dress: Beatitude Bridal
Makeup/Hair: Tessa Kale Wimberley

july

A little update from July; some highlights.

As a Christmas in July promo, I released 12 new wedding suites/other paper goods under the hashtag #12DaysofSugaredFig. It was so so fun!! I spent the prior weeks planning, sketching, and listing ideas- many fall and winter themed invitations, and some season-neutral. Alex and I decided that this school year would be too busy for us to visit family much, so we dedicated this last month to staying with our families and grandparents. Lots of traveling meant no time to paint my designs at home in my normal, comfortable workspace, so all of my "12 Days of Sugared Fig" designs were painted on Alex's parents' dining room table. It was the sweetest thing. Every morning when I woke up to paint, my mother-in-law would have the coffee ready, the window shutters open, Ludovico Einaudi music playing, and she would bring me Southern Living magazines to give me floral inspiration. Then, when I got each design the way I wanted it, I would drive over to my parents' house (about an 8 min drive) and my sister and I would stage the shoot. Though it sometimes didn't feel like the ideal environment, with my paints strewn all over the table and our luggage scattered at each of our families' houses, it is a precious memory I'll never forget.

Alex and I then traveled to my grandparents' house out in the country of East Texas for a few days. As Alex was applying to med schools, I was outside picking figs with Mimi... and later, making fig preserves.

At night we went on a hog hunt with my uncle and cousin (they own a hog hit men business). If we're being honest here, I didn't actually shoot anything. I just held all the thermal vision gear and cheered the boys on. And, I cropped out the bloody hog faces for your benefit. Country life was relaxing, fulfilling (I mean, pot roast and garden vegetables can't be beat), and such a special time spent with my grandparents, but we weren't too sad when we arrived back in our city. After all, that side of the family always calls me "city girl."

 

Later in the month, I participated in my first wedding styled shoot. Let me tell you, these are the most exciting, high-strung things. My responsibility was all papery items (invitation suites, menus, place cards, signage), the cake, and co-designing the table styling with my friend Adrienne. Adrienne, a childhood friend, has her own floral design company, and she was absolutely the best person to work with!!! We get each other. In addition to Adrienne, our team consisted of photographer Asia from PhotobyJoy (also a good friend- we traveled to Thailand together), her intern Kinzey, a team of hair/makeup artists from San Antonio, bride/groom models, and of course, the amazing venue Hadora Ranch in Kerrville.

We arrived at noon and immediately began transforming the venue inside and out. If you don't know what a styled shoot is, it's really just a fake, scaled-down wedding. We had two different table settings, an arbor and a cake table, in addition to shooting my invitations, bridals, and up-close florals. The photographer moved from station to station, shooting what we had set up for her. By the time everything was photographed, taken down and cleaned up, it was about 11pm. Alex and I stayed at Hadora Ranch that night, as it's actually an airbnb bed & breakfast.

I will dedicate an entire blog post to our styled shoot soon!

Amidst the travels, I also did a collab with an insta-famous bride (creating her wedding invitations), some custom designs, and many, MANY, wedding orders. My sleeping schedule would sometimes be off, and our family keeps saying "what are you going to do during the school year???"

I don't know. But I know that I'm where I need to be, teaching math in an urban school and also creating invitations for brides around the world, two things that I feel extremely joyful and content about. 

Here's something I do know, though : “'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

nourishment

This summer, I've been trying to cook every meal light and healthy, and one of my favorite things to explore is finding healthier substitutes for ingredients in common recipes. I just wanted to share this different take on one of my favorite dishes, a personally adapted recipe:

 A V O C A D O  P E S T O

 Side note: I love having fresh herbs on my kitchen window sill, but after one weekend of traveling, they turned to this?!  If anyone can tell me how to better take care of herbs, I will love you forever.

 This dish is simple, flavorful, and without any added oil!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons water give or take
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • sea salt, as needed
  • whole grain pasta

Directions:

1. Add avocado, basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese to a food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is chopped.
2. Add the lemon juice and water and process until desired consistency.
3. Prepare pasta according to directions on the package.
4. Mix pesto thoroughly into the pasta and top with fresh grated parmesan.

Notes:

1. You may store pesto in an airtight container for a few days in the fridge.
2. Best served alongside an episode of House of Cards.