Peanut Butter Brownies: The Perfect Way To Celebrate National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day!


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Fun fact: March 1 (Sunday!) is National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day — a day virtually everyone in America can agree is AWESOME. Check out the collection of amazing peanut butter recipes — both savory and sweet — I rounded up for Paste if you need some ideas of appropriately delicious ways to take advantage of this event. (I personally tested every recipe on that list, so I can vouch for them all. If you’re a Brussels sprouts fan, give that Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Peanut Vinaigrette recipe a try. It sounds a bit strange, but it TOTALLY works.)

To celebrate such a worthy holiday, I grabbed a list off of the Paste gallery and baked up a batch of Peanut Butter Brownies (recipe courtesy of The Smitten Kitchen, so you know it’s a good one). These brownies are more blondie-like in nature, and are topped with a chocolate ganache that makes them just about perfect.


What are you doing to celebrate National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day, friends? Don’t worry — you still have a couple of days to decide! Got any go-to peanut butter recipes to share?

Peanut Butter Brownies with Chocolate Ganache


Ingredients (for brownies)

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Ingredients (for ganache)

  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Directions (for brownies)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 13″x9″ baking pan. Set aside.
  • Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and beat until incorporated.
  • Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla, then reduce mixer speed to low.
  • Beat in flour until just combined.
  • Mix in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, then spread batter into prepared pan. (The batter will look like cookie dough, which will make you very excited.)


  • Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top, and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 40-45 minutes). (Your house will smell incredible.)
  • Cool COMPLETELY in pan on a cooling rack (about 1 1/2 hours).


Directions (for ganache)

  • Put remaining 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.
  • Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let stand for one minute.
  • Gently whisk in butter until butter and chocolate are melted into a smooth mixture.
  • Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let set for 15-20 minutes before slicing.


  • Eat ‘em! (I stored our brownies in the fridge and loved them chilled. They can be stored at room temperature as well, in a sealed container, for up to three weeks.)



Workout Accessory Wish List


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Pretty regularly, I share the workout wardrobe pieces I have my eye on, but this post is dedicated instead to workout accessories. This is all about those “extras” that help round out your workout (or workout prep).

Up first: gym bags! I often go straight from work to a Pure Barre class, so it’s not uncommon to find me lugging my gym bag (and my lunch bag, and purse, and laptop bag — seriously, it’s like I’m moving into the office each day) to work with me. Having a functional gym bag — and one that’s the right size to meet your needs — is important! Here are a few I’m loving:

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Do sports bras count as accessories? I think so. I’m going with yes. With that in mind, here are a few I’m in love with. (I had to narrow down the list. There are so many adorable sports bras out there!)

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Can’t forget the hydration! Here are some of my favorite water bottles to take along on your next visit to the gym or studio.

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Moving on to yoga mats and accessories.

  • Nomadix Towels (these your “everything” towel, and can be used as yoga mats, beach towels, pack towel for camping, etc. — I’m obsessed)

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  • Jade Yoga Mat (This is the mat I have, and I love it. They come in multiple lengths, so you can get a longer-than-usual mat if you want. Plus, they’re super grippy.)


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What are your favorite workout accessory finds? Any can’t-live-without recommendations?




The Sunday Conundrum

There’s a truth about Sundays that’s just as predictable as brunch with Bloody Marys (please note the absence of the apostrophe in “Marys”). That truth is The Sunday Conundrum.


You know what I’m talking about. It’s those two voices in your head that start speaking up on Sunday afternoons. One voice is advocating for a day spent lazing on the couch, catching up on shows on Hulu Plus while wearing yoga pants and snuggling with your dog. The other voice — that pesky, productive one — is prodding at you, trying to get you to do things like laundry. And grocery shopping. And working out. And cleaning the house.

It’s inevitable, and the trouble with The Sunday Conundrum — for me, at least — is that I feel guilty no matter which voice I listen to. If I clean the house and go to the grocery store, I feel like I should have cut myself some slack and relaxed more. And if I go with the lazy option, I end the day mad at myself for not having accomplished more to get ready for the start of the week.

So yeah — no real takeaway here, or insight, or advice or anything. I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the inevitable reality that is The Sunday Conundrum.

Back to your Sunday, friends! Whichever voice you listen to, I hope your day’s a good one!


4 Things I’ve Been Loving Lately…


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I hope everyone’s staying warm during this crazy winter weather! I was in New York earlier this week for work, and was thankful to make it home safely (and on time) to Kevin and this snuggly pup:


As we ride out this ice and snow, I thought I’d share a handful of things I’ve discovered pretty recently and that get two enthusiastic thumbs up:

  • S’well water bottle. When I was in Toronto for work a few weeks ago, I noticed lots of the women in the meetings I was in had these stylish water bottles with them. I took note of the brand name on the bottle — S’well — and Googled it later. As it turns out, the company makes a collection of beautifully designed, insulated water bottles (they keep cold things cold for 24 hours and hot things hot for 12). Plus, they’re affiliated with charitable organizations, and are, obviously, also good for the environment since they’re reusable bottles. Anyway, I got semi-obsessed, and Kevin got me my own S’well bottle for Valentine’s Day! (He even consulted with my good friend Ashleigh on the color selection. Sweet Kevin.) The verdict? I LOVE my S’well!

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  • Kodiak Protein-Packed Power Cakes. Kevin discovered these at Target not too long ago, and now they’re a staple in our pantry. With an impressive amount of protein — 14 grams per serving! — these flapjacks keep us full and are SO yummy. (I thought this was worth posting now, since it’s National Pancake Week. Or something like that. I’ve seen lots of pancake pictures on Instagram.) Anyway, we like to top these with peanut butter and bananas, walnuts, fruit compote, etc. Kodiak Cakes come in other delicious flavors, but this one’s our fave.

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  • Handpicked is now in Winston-Salem! For a few years now, my sister, Susan, has been getting lovely jewelry and accessories for herself and as gifts for others from a store in Columbia, South Carolina, where she lives. Just last Christmas, she got me THREE awesome pieces of jewelry (including the monogrammed bar necklace I mentioned in a recent post and seriously wear ALL THE TIME). Anyway, as you can see I love this place, so I was thrilled to learn — just last weekend — that a Handpicked location has opened at Thruway in Winston-Salem! If you haven’t checked this store out yet, Winston folks, be sure you do soon.


  • Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Eye Concentrate. This is definitely a splurge as far as beauty products go, but it’s one that’s been worth it to me. My skin has been SO dry these past few weeks — especially the skin around my eyes — and this product has been a lifesaver.

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Happy Thursday, friends! What new discoveries are you loving these days?

Treat Yo Self: Valentine’s Day Style


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This weekend, my sister, Susan, her husband, Marty, and their adorable pup, Piper, are headed up from South Carolina to visit Kevin, Fulton, and me. They’re awesome, so this is great news. (Here they are in their Christmas card from this past year. Aren’t they the cutest?)


One of the best things about spending time with Susan and Marty is that they’re so easy to be with. Sometimes we plan activities (rock climbing! football games!), but other times, we just hang, and everyone’s happy. It’s perfection. (Susan and I try to hit up a Pure Barre class together whenever possible, too. I love that we share an obsession with Pure Barre. This Saturday, we look forward to taking a class at the Winston-Salem studio, should anyone want to join us at 9 a.m.!)

So anyway, in anticipation of the awesomeness that will be happening this weekend, I’ve whipped up a few Valentine’s Day goodies so we can be in “treat yo self” mode all weekend long. On the dessert menu: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nutella Puppy Chow, and Spicy Brownie Bites. (Yup. You can start drooling now.)

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

I needed something pink for Valentine’s Day, obviously, and when I stumbled upon this recipe, I knew it was the one. It’s definitely in the “semi-homemade” category, since you use a box of strawberry cake mix in the dough along with a handful of other ingredients, but don’t let that deter you. These are a one-of-a-kind treat (in a good way!), and the chocolate and strawberry pair so very well together.



  • 1 18.5-ounce box of strawberry cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and baking powder, then set aside.


  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla by hand, then pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir to completely combine, then gently mix in the chocolate chips.


  • Drop rounded balls of dough (about 2 Tablespoons each) onto the prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake for 10 minutes. They will look under-baked, which is what you want. Be sure not to let them start to brown!
  • Cool completely, then store for up to a week in an airtight container (but good luck getting them to last that long!)

Nutella Puppy Chow

I know you’re imagining how this would taste. I’m here to tell you it’s even better than what you’re envisioning. Just make this ASAP. (You’re welcome in advance.) Oh, but I’d recommend having someone (or a few someones) to share it with, or you’ll probably eat it all yourself.



  • 1 13-ounce jar of Nutella
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup salted peanuts
  • 6 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  • In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and Nutella, stirring constantly until smooth.
  • Add salt, and remove from heat.
  • Pour the peanuts and Chex into a large bowl, then top with warm chocolate mixture. Gently stir to coat each piece of cereal.
  • Pour the chocolate-coated cereal mixture into a large Ziploc bag or covered container (I used a large tupperware container). Add the powdered sugar.
  • Seal the bag or container and shake well until the cereal is coated with the sugar.
  • Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

Spicy Brownie Bites

Sure, there are chocolate chips in the Strawberry Chocolate Chip cookies and the Nutella Puppy Chow, but I needed to add something that was in-your-face chocolate to the mix in the line-up. This recipe certainly fit the bill. I’ve been craving brownies for going on three weeks, and so it was time to whip up a batch. And a recipe using chile pepper and ginger? YES. I was sold.



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground ginger
  • 9 ounces 72% cacao dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 eggs at room temperature


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, chile pepper, cinnamon, salt, and ginger, then set aside.
  • Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler or a large heat-proof bowl. Set over a pan of barely simmering water (the bottom of the pan should not touch the water). Heat and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined.
  • Remove from heat, keeping the pan or bowl over water.
  • Add both sugars, whisk until completely combined. Remove from water. Mixture should be at room temperature.
  • Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.
  • Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Do not over-beat or you run the risk of cakey brownies.
  • Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not whisk), fold until there is just a trace amount of flour mixture visible.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula.
  • Bake brownies for 25-30 minutes (rotating the pan midway through baking), or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  • Cool completely and enjoy!

It’s gonna be delicious over here for Valentine’s Day! What do you have planned for the weekend?

Accessory Obsession


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I can’t get enough of accessories, but at the same time I’m pretty picky about the pieces I want to add to my collection. These days, bracelets (especially stack-worthy ones), classic, monogrammed items, and earrings top my wish list. (And then of course there’s nail polish, which to me is an essential accessory. But that deserves a post all its own.)

Here are a few of my accessory loves of late:

  • Monogrammed Zip Transport Tote (Madewell). Between work trips and the frequent weekend excursions Kevin and I take, I find myself packing lots of bags. I’d love to add this tote to my collection. It would be stylish for years to come, and the size seems perfect for all those “extras” I always find myself taking along.

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  • Java Cocktail Ring (House of Harlow). I don’t wear a ton of rings, but the few I have and love are big chunky ones like this House of Harlow beauty.

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  • Carly Bracelet (Loren Hope). I am beyond obsessed with all things Loren Hope, and lately I’ve been especially loving this brass bracelet. Wouldn’t this be perfect to layer with another bracelet or two, or a watch?

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  • Aztec Bangle (House of Harlow). I have so much love for this bracelet. It would be lovely on its own and also awesome to stack with others. (I’m always falling for House of Harlow jewelry. They do such good work!)

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  • Classic St. Mawes (Daniel Wellington). I’m head over heels for Daniel Wellington watches, and this classic one would be a great accessory investment.

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What accessories have you been eyeing? Please share!

Almost Time For Lightweight Springtime Jackets And Sweaters!

As I start to plan (perhaps optimistically and bit prematurely) for the transition from cold to warm weather, I’ve started hunting for some lightweight, perfect-for-springtime jackets and sweaters to layer over short-sleeved and sleeveless tops and dresses. That way, you can start to re-introduce some warm weather wardrobe favorites while still staying warm and cozy during the in-between temps. Plus, it’s the perfect way to change up the look of your summertime favorites.

Here are my favorite looks. Any jackets/sweaters you’re longing to add to your springtime wardrobe?:

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Valentine’s Gift Ideas For All Your Favorite People


I love Valentine’s Day and always have. Growing up, we’d have a special Valentine’s Day breakfast as a family, and my mom would give my sister and me a couple of gifts (usually some fun pajamas or something) to celebrate. For me, the holiday was always about appreciating the people you care about and appreciate — boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, siblings, parents, friends, co-workers, etc.

With that in mind, here’s a list of some gift ideas to show the special people in your life — romantic and otherwise, and in no particular order — how much they mean to you on Valentine’s Day.

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  • The Dreamer Gold Ring by Vanessa Mooney. I fell in love with Vanessa Mooney jewelry when Kevin and I were in San Francisco last spring, and have enjoyed admiring their pieces ever since. This ring caught my eye recently, and it’s a great price point for a V-Day gift.

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  • Make Your Own Bitters Kit from Food52. You KNOW you have a cocktail lover on your list who would love this kit! Plus, it’s something you can do together. (Extra points for an experiential gift.)

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  • Initial Bar Necklace from Urban Outfitters. My sister got me a similar necklace for Christmas and I wear it ALL the time (and always receive compliments, too). It’s great to wear on its own, but I also like to layer it with other necklaces. A guaranteed gift hit for a lovely lady in your life!

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  • Pajamas from J. Crew, for Men or Women. Follow the Swindle Family tradition by getting your loved one a pair of cute, comfy pj’s!

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  • Twig Measuring Spoons from Anthropologie. Some of my favorite gifts are things that are useful, everyday items, but dressed up versions of them. Things I wouldn’t buy for myself (because it can be hard to justify), but that add beauty to my home. These measuring spoons meet the criteria of that type of gift. For someone who (like me!) bakes or cooks often, these would be used all the time.

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  • Geo Terrarium from World Market. Despite not having much of a green thumb to speak of, I’m smitten with these lovely terrariums from World Market (always a reliable gift destination, by the way). That’s one of the great things about these terrariums, too — you can use them to house a plant, or just display them as they are for the less lucky gardeners among us!

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What’s on your Valentine’s Day gift list?

Workout Wardrobe Wish List: Spring 2015 Edition


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Even though that silly Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow earlier this week, predicting another six weeks of winter weather, I have my mind on springtime and sunshine. Poor Fulton is ready for more walks, and I’m ready to ditch the layers and be able to enjoy — rather than just tolerate — running outside.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m thankful to live in a place with four distinct seasons. (When I lived in Malaysia, one of the things I missed most was having seasons. I realized how important seasons are to marking time and indicating traditions.) I’m also grateful to not be dealing with the crazy snowpocalypse weather much of the north has dealt with this winter.


So, to summarize: Thank you for coming, winter. Now you may exit gracefully, making room for spring.

With that in mind, I’ve collected a list of a few springtime workout pieces I’ve been eyeing. I can’t wait to add a few of these to my closet so they’ll be ready and waiting for when things warm up!:

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My 30-Day Winter Wardrobe Challenge: Week 4 Recap

Whoa — I’m already done with my 30-Day Winter Wardrobe Challenge! That went by fast.

Main takeaways from this exercise:

I think I’m good in the striped top department. Seriously — I’m all set. (Note to self: You’re all set.)

Also, I knew I wore leggings a lot in the fall/winter, but I seriously wear them ALL THE TIME. (I’m okay with this, but the challenge has been a reminder to myself of this. They are soooo comfortable. I just can’t stop!) Oh, and don’t worry — I have multiple pairs of the BP by Nordstrom leggings. That’s what I love about them — they’re super affordable but also comfy and quality. (Promise I wasn’t paid for this endorsement.)

In short, I most certainly have a winter uniform: leggings, booties, and a long-ish shirt/sweater that’s acceptable to pair with said leggings and booties (more often than not, a striped one). It’s not especially interesting, but it’s my reality (as shown by these past 30 days).

Here’s a recap of what I wore during the last few days of the challenge. Thanks to those of you who followed along!:

Day Twenty-Two: Monday, January 26

(top: Lou & Grey by LOFT / leggings: BP by Nordstrom / booties: BP by Nordstrom / nail color: Bikini So Teeny by Essie)


Day Twenty-Three: Tuesday, January 27

(sweater: Nordstrom Rack / leggings: BP by Nordstrom / boots: Dolce Vita / nail color: Eternal Optimist by Essie)


Day Twenty-Four: Wednesday, January 28

(sweater: TJMaxx / pants: Paige Denim / booties: BP by Nordstrom / nail color: Eternal Optimist by Essie)


Day Twenty-Five: Thursday, January 29

(top: BP by Nordstrom / faux leather leggings: Asos / booties: BP by Nordstrom / nail color: Smokin’ Hot by Essie)


Day Twenty-Six: Friday, January 30

(top: Cynthia Rowley / sweater: Target / skirt: Urban Outfitters / tights: HUE / boots: Arturo Chiang / nail color: Smokin’ Hot by Essie)


Day Twenty-Seven: Saturday, January 31

(top: Nordstrom Rack / leggings: BP by Nordstrom / booties: BP by Nordstrom / nail color: Mint Candy Apple by Essie)


Day Twenty-Eight: Sunday, February 1

(top: Target / leggings: BP by Nordstrom / booties: BP by Nordstrom / nail color: Mint Candy Apple by Essie)


Day Twenty-Nine: Monday, February 2

(sweater: Target / leggings: BP by Nordstrom / boots: Justin Boots / nail color: Watermelon by Essie)


Day Thirty!: Tuesday, February 3

(sweater: Urban Outfitters / leggings: BP by Nordstrom / booties: BP by Nordstrom / nail color: Watermelon by Essie)



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