Everyday Inspirations


~ small inspiration ~

Guest Blogger: Daniel Iverson

Daniel is a public relations specialist for a Montana state agency, a former reporter for a daily newspaper, and occasionally a blogger. Daniel's free time is spent with family, friends, technology, and planning his December wedding.

Every morning, I wake up to the scene of a beach my grandmother painted from behind the bay windows of her Anacortes, Washington, house. My brother and I used to visit her there until my family moved to Utah (I was 10 years old then). I don’t know exactly how I ended up with the painting, but it’s my favorite relic of my grandmother.

A couple weeks ago, I returned to Washington for the first time since 1998 for a vacation with my fiancée. While we were there, I retraced the footsteps of my childhood by visiting the places I used to go with my family. One of my goals was to locate my grandmother’s old house and photograph the scene she painted all those years ago.

The problem with doing so was remembering where the house is. I was only a child then, and after close to a decade and a half, my parents didn’t remember either. Anacortes isn’t the biggest city ever, but searching 14.2 square miles with nothing to guide us but a painting and distant memories of a yellow house was still going to be a challenge.

Surprisingly, after only a few minutes of driving around the area, we were successful.

The house was landscaped and renovated and no longer yellow, but the bay windows and interesting design of the roof across the street confirmed the location. After climbing the steep driveway (my apologies to the current residents), I turned around to behold the familiar scene. The view, similar to the house, had changed with time. But we’d definitely found the right spot. I did my best to recreate the scene from the painting and enjoyed the nostalgia for a moment, and then I bid farewell to the house once again.

I saw a lot of memorable things while visiting Washington, but finding my grandmother’s old house is the probably the first thing I’ll remember about the trip years from now. If you ever get the chance to retrace the footsteps of your childhood too, it’s definitely worth experiencing.

~ our world ~

Seattle, Washington

I made it to Seattle for two sunny, hot days in early July. I've always wanted to see Seattle -- it seemed like my kind of town -- and I was thrilled to do so while visiting family in the Northwest.

We were only there two days, so we carved out time for a couple of the tourist attractions. We definitely had to see the gorgeous produce and vibrant, inspiring colors at Pike Place Market and visited the Seattle Art Museum (Andy Warhol and Kurt Cobain exhibits are happening now, and both are wonderful!). We also got lost in the city, checking out the charming districts and eating amazing food. I recommend both restaurants I visited while in Seattle: The Crab Pot (thanks for the recommendation, Kabi!) for their famous "seafeast," and Purple, a lovely downtown wine bar.

Of course, we also visited the very first Starbucks before heading home. Isn't there a rule of some sort?

~ food ~

Tres Leches Cake
This tres leches recipe is a butter cake soaked in three different kinds of milk--whole milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. When I was doing my research it said in the Caribbean they usually use cream of coconut instead of sweetened condensed milk which is definitely something I need to try next time. This rich cake is moist, creamy, and a cool summer dessert.

{Tres Leches Cake}

Vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces of evaporated milk
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon dark rum
Fresh sliced fruit or cinnamon for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-inch pan with vegetable oil.

Beat the eggs and sugar about six minutes or until slightly thick. Slowly mix in the melted butter, vanilla and 1/4 cup of the whole milk.

In a separate bowl, mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift dry mixture over the wet and gently fold together with a rubber spatula until thick. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Whisk the remaining two cups of whole milk with the evaporated milk, condensed milk and rum. Pierce the cake all over with a fork then slowly pour the milk mixture over the top evenly. Let the cake absorb the liquid for at least an hour or overnight. Serve with fresh sliced fruit or with a dash of cinnamon. 

~ a better you ~

View from the car as we were leaving Park City. I adore summer!

I've been excited for tonight all week. Because it's been so hot in the valley, Dan and I decided we'd go up to Park City after work today for dinner and to enjoy the cool mountain air. All day long I kept checking the clock, giddy for my date.

We've dated well over a year now, but it always surprises me how excited I still get for the smallest things: hugging him after a long day at work, seeing his name show up on my phone's caller ID, planning a mid-week getaway to a gorgeous mountain town. I love that I get the same butterflies today that I got when we first started dating. I know that it's a blessing. I also know that it's something we've cultivated ourselves -- and something we'll have to keep working on the rest of our lives.

No matter how crazy life gets or how long you've been with the person you love, make sure you always carve out time for just the two of you. It will strengthen your bond. Plus, the personal benefits you'll receive are endless -- such as less stress and a more positive outlook on life.

Lots of love!
Looks like the Fairbanks family might be expanding! No Mom, I'm not pregnant, and based on my advice in this post, that is NOT how I'd tell you. When we first looked at the floorplan of our house when it was being built last year, there was this nook that bothered me right in the middle of the upper floor in the hallway between the bedrooms. At first I saw it as such a waste of space. What would I put there? A chair I'd never sit on? Decor I'd never look at? Then it occurred to me--this nook would be a bedroom for the puppy! Naturally, this idea made me excited for this space. It was right in the center of the house where she could be near to us but have her own area without taking up any of the space we needed or being sent to the garage or basement. One problem--we don't have a puppy yet and weren't quite ready to have puppy paws on our brand new home and furniture. Well after eight months of getting settled into our new place I think it might be time to fill the empty nest. Can't wait! Stay tuned!   


~ fashion ~


There is a reason why pearl jewelry is so timeless: it's a classic, simple way to complete your look. Pearls beg to be worn somewhere romantic. They add a clean finishing touch to any outfit. They can be dressed up or down. And it's pretty much a guarantee that any girl you meet has pearls of her own.

I adore my pearls (both real and fake), and always find myself defaulting to a favorite pair of dangling earrings when I'm not sure what else to put on. I'm never disappointed.

How do you wear your pearls?

~ how to ~

Classy Vegas
The girls in Vegas for our friend Lindsey's bachelorette party
{ash and angie}
Vegas is a great place for people watching. Here's how to avoid being one of "those people" and ideas on keeping it classy in Sin City.
  • I don't care how cute you think it is or if everyone else there does it, not everyone needs to see your goods. Avoid wearing anything that involves slits on the sides of your thighs, anything cut too low or too high or anything that would make people walking by you say "whoa did you see that?!"
  • Overdone makeup can be spotted a mile away. Tone it down.
  • It's not classy to be drunk in public people. Stumbling and throwing up in public even less so. Ew.
  • Jumping in the fountain at Caesar's Palace doesn't actually make you cool. 
  • No matter what they say, what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas. Don't do anything you wouldn't mind showing up on Facebook.
  • Less is always more (except when it comes to clothing). Trust us.
  • Keeping it classy doesn't mean you can't still have a blast. Have fun!

~ small inspiration ~

{ash and angie}
We weren't prepared for Vegas to redefine comfort for us. Then we snuggled into our big, cozy Mirage hotel room bed. Can you be completely inspired by a bed? We were.

Yesterday was quite an adventure. After car trouble on the way to Vegas (complete with being stranded by the side of the road in the middle-of-nowhere desert) and a long day of walking and shopping in the 110 degree heat, our bed felt like a giant hug. We sank into the pillow top mattress and fluffy pillows, cuddled under the down comforter, and were out.

~ our world ~

{ash and angie}
This weekend the EI team is in Las Vegas to celebrate a friend's bachelorette party. The Las Vegas sunset is a welcome sight as it closes out a hot, busy day with friends yet also promises a night full of adventure.

~ food ~


I have already professed my love for Giada De Laurentiis and her amazing book Everyday Pasta, but here I go again.

Saturday afternoon, our tummies are already looking forward to dinner. Dan expresses a need for pasta, so we pull out the trusty book. We only flip a few pages before we find a recipe for linguine with butter, Pecorino cheese, pepper, and arugula. We decided to use the recipe as our inspiration, adding shrimp as our own personal touch.

We threw on a little Ben Folds in honor of the concert at Deer Valley that night and danced while making our meal. We jazzed up the shrimp with a pinch of red pepper flakes, which was the perfect complement to the pepper and spicy, fresh arugula in the pasta. Add a glass of white wine and we had ourselves a pretty awesome (and incredibly tasty!) dish perfect for a summer evening.

Props to my sweetie, who was 100% in charge of the shrimp. His beautiful seasoning took the pasta to a new level.

{spiced-up linguine with shrimp}

Servings: About 6

For the shrimp:
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional but mighty tasty)
For the pasta:
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
  • Salt, to taste
Prep your shrimp by removing the shells, veins, and tails. (Side note: Dan bought a shrimp deveiner at the market since we had purchased fresh shrimp from the counter. He was greatly disappointed when he unwrapped the package and discovered the shrimp had already been deveined.)

Heat olive oil in saute pan. Brown the garlic in the oil, then add the shrimp. While stirring, season with Italian seasoning and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Remove from heat and set aside.

After cooking your linguine in a large pot of salted water until it is al dente (make sure you stir frequently), drain the pasta. Be sure to reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water (this is a very important step in this dish, so don't forget it!).

Immediately toss the hot pasta in a large bowl with the butter to coat. While tossing the linguine, gradually sprinkle the cheese, pepper, and enough of the reserved pasta water evenly over the linguine to moisten. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Season with salt as needed (the cheese adds a nice nutty/salty flavor to your pasta, so make sure you add additional salt last so it's not too overpowering).

Stir in your shrimp, serve up, and enjoy!