I love to cook. It’s always been the way I relax, unwind and enjoy my evenings. But since having the tiny human, the entire cooking process has gone out the window. Meal planning, grocery shopping, recipe finding – it’s all seemed too overwhelming, even 15 months in.

But thankfully, we live in 2016 and there’s an app for that. Those dinner in box services seem to be proliferating every day – and I can see why. They’re genius. Delicious easy recipes with all the ingredients – often organic – ready to go, pre-measured and laid out for you – yes, I’m signing up immediately.

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Case in point, Marley Spoon. Marley Spoon has upped the meal-in-a-box ante by coming together with the master – Miss Martha Stewart herself – to bring some of Martha’s most tried and true recipes and smart cooking techniques neatly packaged and ready for you to whip up at home. Designed with easy weeknight cooking in mind, recipes reflect Martha’s love for seasonal ingredients and delicious flavors. I love that they select organic and sustainable whenever possible.

I recently gave this chicken salad recipe a go. I hadn’t cooked with sumac before, though I’ve been hearing about the middle eastern spice for awhile. I just haven’t been sure how to use it. In this case, you marinate your chicken in a sumac based glaze. Verdict? Totally delicious!

This dish is light and flavor packed but filling enough that it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner. I’m just thrilled I can finally break in my dream kitchen – I designed it to be used after all!

Sumac Grilled Chicken with Israeli Couscous Salad

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 lemons
2 tsp sumac (0.2 oz)
2, 6­oz boneless skinless chicken breast
2 Tbsp honey (1 oz)
1 cup pearl couscous (4.7 oz)
1⁄4 cup roasted unsalted almonds (1 oz)
1⁄4 oz fresh mint
1⁄4 oz fresh parsley
1⁄4 cup dried cranberries (1 oz)
2 oz baby arugula
olive oil
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Marinate chicken, Juice 1⁄2 of a lemon into a large bowl and whisk in sumac and 1 tablespoon oil. Use a sharp knife to lightly score chicken at 1⁄2­inch intervals. Add chicken to bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix to coat, rubbing marinade into chicken.

Make dressing

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Zest 1 lemon over a small bowl and add remaining 11⁄2 lemon juice. Whisk in honey and 3 tablespoons oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook couscous

Add couscous to boiling water and cook until al dente, 6–7 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with half of dressing and toss to combine.

Cook chicken

Preheat a grill, grill pan, or broiler with rack 6­inches from heat source. Place chicken on the grill or grill pan and grill (or place on a rimmed baking sheet and broil) until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side. Remove, cover loosely with foil, and set aside to rest for 5 mins. Slice on the bias.

Prep almonds & herbs and coarsely chop almonds. Pick parsley and mint leaves from stems.

Finish & serve in a bowl with couscous, add arugula, cranberries, almonds, parsley, and mint leaves. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to combine. Divide between plates and top with sliced chicken. Serve drizzled with remaining dressing.

Enjoy!

As you may have noticed, I’m a bit obsessed with neutral interiors. Our house is a whole lotta white (as you can see here) – in a good way if I do say so myself. But I do want to inject a bit of color here and there. A colorful rug is the perfect way to add a touch of personality to a neutral room.

Especially if they look as good as these hand selected Moroccan rugs from Australian company Tigmi Trading. I would like one of each please!

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While the neutral beni ourain rugs have been the design de jour, I’m loving the look of these pink, peach, and magenta tones. They feel fresh, modern and interesting. A rug with a mix of peach tones can looks soft and warm, while a rug with a black ground can look really dramatic (obsessed!).

You could make a major statement with a really large rug in a bedroom, but these rugs would also look good in smaller versions for use in a bathroom, in the kitchen or in a walk-in closet. You could even create a the ultimate outdoor setting (though you wouldn’t want to leave it out there obviously). While you need to be a little brave to take on such a bold color choice, the best thing about a rug? It’s easy to swap out for something new!

For our design inspiration archive CLICK HERE.

Apartment 34 on Instagram

Hi, I’m Erin and I have a problem. A coat problem. I’ve very rarely met a one I didn’t like. But no matter how big my collection grows, I can never resist a fresh fall coat. Especially when they’re on sale!

I’ve been scouring the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale – it started today btw – to find the perfect addition to my closet, but now I don’t know how I’m going to pick just one!
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A cropped pea coat feels modern and fresh.

My obsession with all things pink continues with this Topshop duster. Especially since it’s only $85!

A wool trench coat in a cool olive color will never go out of style.

But a sweet pink trench will keep me feeling light on my feet all season long.

A drape neck wool coat feels sophisticated and chic.

A camel walking coat will be a classic for years to come.

SHOP THE POST

I got married six years ago. At the time, I thought I was a progressive bride who took a modern approach to the hoopla. I didn’t have a bridal party, we did a small destination wedding with less than 50 guests. But looking back now, I realize how much I still stuck with convention.

Involved invitations, a big dinner, agonizing over every detail. It seems like it couldn’t be avoided. But what if  you skipped all of it? What if you the only thing you had to do was find the perfect dress and spend the day enjoying your one and only? This city hall wedding had me at hello.

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I don’t know what I love more about this concept. The stunning setting of San Francisco City Hall, that epic dress, beautiful bouquet or the fact that this special moment can be focused on what’s truly most important – making a truly special commitment with the one you love.

While I’m still a sucker for a good wedding, this idea might be simply perfect.

For our archive of Wedding Wednesdays (which last for about 3 years I think!) CLICK HERE.

Venue: San Francisco City Hall
Photographer: Melanie Duerkopp Photography
Hair & Make-up Artist: The Glamourist
Florist: Natalie Bowen Designs
Bride’s Dress: Self Portrait
Brides’s Shoes (similar): Steve Madden
Groom’s Attire (similar): Express
Groom’s Shoes (similar): Men’s Warehouse

While I love throwing a good party and pride myself on setting a great table, I also love to pick the brains of the style geniuses that abound these days. One such person who has jumped on my radar of late is Heather Taylor, a Los Angeles based style maven who has morphed from a gallerist to blogger, mother and now textile designer, with her Heather Taylor Home collectionHer collections – ranging from tea towels and table linens to scarves and baby blankets – are designed in Taylor’s Los Angeles studio and hand-woven in Chiapas, Mexico.

This summer, Heather added to the fun by launching Heather Taylor Home Events (HTH Events), a collection of handmade, vibrant and textured linens available for rent. They’re the perfect way to take any table to the next level. I recently sat down with Heather to pick her brain for her favorite tips for setting a festive summer table.

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Tip 1: Mix and Match. Mixing patterns and color in unexpected ways instantly gives your table a feeling of depth and texture. Just be sure to create a balance. If you use a patterned napkin, take it easy with the plates. Too many different patterns can look chaotic.

Tip 2: Stay centered. Always have a focal point in the center of your table. Grab the prettiest flowers you can get your hands on and casually arrange them in a vessel. If it’s last minute and flowers aren’t an option, a beautiful bowl filled with citrus or fruit will always feel fresh.

Tip 3: Pare down. Less is definitely more. I like to scale down the size of my glasses (sometimes I use small water glasses for wine) and the amount of flatware on the table for a look that feels more casual.

Tip 4: Go with your gut. To avoid looking like you copied a tabletop straight from a Pinterest board, try not to get too hung up on the current trends. Instead, make the table a reflection of you and your aesthetic in order to create something really beautiful, approachable and special.

Tip 5: Go naked. Especially in the summer months, a “naked” table feels seasonally appropriate. Do away with a table cloth in favor of runners and napkins

I want to thank Heather for sharing her awesome styling tips with us. Now I’m feeling extra inspired to throw my next dinner party!

images courtesy of Heather Taylor Home

When you get to a “certain age” and haven’t had a baby, you constantly get the when are you going to have kids question. Once you finally do pop out a tiny human, it seems the question of when you’re going to have your second comes even faster. That’s why we decided to tackle the topic of growing your family for the latest installment of our Real Talk, Real Moms column.

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I have what I think might be a less common perspective on growing our family, or not growing it as the case may be. You see, I don’t think I want to add another baby to our midst. I think we are one and done. But people have very mixed opinions about that.  Even I have mixed opinions now and again.

How do you know if you should have another baby anyway? Lots of people say, well you don’t want to deny your child a sibling. And while yes, I agree – I never want to “deny” my child of any worthwhile experience, as my pediatrician explained: you do not want to have another baby for your existing child. That’s like getting a puppy in an attempt to save a relationship. Not a good idea. And while I look at friends’ babies and think oh, how cute, I have zero urge to go through it all again. Giving up my body to grow a tiny human, birthing said human and then right back into the sleepless nights, 1 million diapers and another year of breast feeding?? As I tip toward the late 30’s, I’m feeling very done with that phase. Some people might call me selfish. I even struggle with guilt knowing I probably could get pregnant again but have literally no desire to. I am only 15 months into this whole motherhood adventure, and realize that my perspective could change…but I doubt it.

Because we’re very happy as a family of three. It’s working quiet well for us and I find it nearly impossible to image adding someone else to the mix. Not to mention the trials and tribulations that seem to come from having two (or more) kids. I see the struggles plaguing friends who have multiple kids over and over again. I just do not feel up for that level of stress.

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But when I start feeling very resolute about having my one and only, the rampant stigma about only children kicks in. It’s been around for literally hundreds of years. According to NPR, in 1907 the American Psychological Association called only children “sickly, selfish, strange and stupid… and that being an only child is a disease in itself.” It often feels like that opinion hasn’t changed much.

But there’s so much research out there showing that only children can in fact be well adjusted, high functioning members of society with strong social skills. I just discovered the book One and Only, The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One – all about the raising of only children and I cannot wait to pick up a copy. For example, the book debunks the myth that only children are lonely. Sure, in some cases I’m sure some only children did feel lonely growing up. But as the author Lauren Sandler explains, “for a lot of only children, being alone is the experience of solitude, which is a very rich thing, instead of loneliness, which is a very painful thing.” Interesting, no?

An only child herself, Sandler also explains her own mother’s rationale for intentionally have just one child:

“My mother was deeply devoted to raising me. To have a happy kid, she figured she needed to be a happy mother, and to be a happy mother, she needed to be a happy person. To do that, she had to preserve her authentic self, which she could not imagine doing with a second child.

I dig it. I dig it a lot. I strongly believe that being a very well-rounded adult will lead to raising well-rounded children.

So there you have it. I don’t know if this minor diatribe was in anyway helpful to anyone else considering whether or not to grow their families. This is just one woman’s take. But I appreciate the opportunity to share it with you. Anyone else out there struggle with these decisions? I would love to hear your experiences.

I also can’t wait to see what all our other mamas have to say on this very hot subject. You can read all of their stories by clicking on the links below.

Ave Styles / Could I Have ThatParker EtcThe Effortless Chic / Sarah Sherman Samuel / The Life Styled / Sacramento Street / Sugar & Charm / The Refined Woman

And if you haven’t checked out the Real Talk, Real Mom series yet, we’ve talked Sleep, Feeding, Travel, Career, Self-Care and Co-Parenting. #realmomseries

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