Three Days in Singapore

I’ve finally been sifting through all of our many many pictures from #PickensinSEAsia so that I could share about our trip. I’m breaking it down by destination and hopefully you’ll enjoy the series. First up is Singapore!

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Three days in Singapore is simply not enough. We really had 2.5 days, but who’s counting. Click on any of the images to enlarge and I apologize in advance for the oversharing of details and imagery, I couldn’t help it!

So, First things first, we landed just after midnight local time which I’d highly recommend (or any late eve landing if you can swing it) so that you can just get to your hotel, go to bed and wake up on the time–it worked swimmingly for us!

Our first day there, we opted to go in search of the hop-on hop-off bus. We’ve found that these are great ways to get to all of the main city sites especially when you have limited time. Most of the key tourist stops will be on one of their routes and you will get earphones with info along the way. The tours are all operated under different companies and you just have to look up where the routes may cross your paths and how to purchase in advance so if it’s cash on the bus, you are prepared to pay.

Unfortunately, despite adjusting well to the time, we didn’t adjust well with our sense of direction. We ended up turning right when we should have turned left and walked through a section of Chinatown, which despite not being part of our plan for that morning, was really interesting and fun. There are walking tours for Chinatown and Little India in Singapore that you can look into, or you can just wander through these areas and explore depending on your travel style.

Once we got ourselves turned around and back on track, we did find the bus and made it over to one of our first sites for the trip: The Singapore Flyer. This high flying ferris wheel was really cool, I’m not a super huge fan of heights, but P loves these types of attractions, and despite the hazy day, we still could see for miles. They say on a clear day you can see all the way to Malaysia, and if we still weren’t oriented enough, this vantage point allowed us to really get our bearings in the city.

When we got our feet back on solid ground we opted to walk across the river and made our way to the Gardens at Marina Bay. This area is one that if we had more time, I’d love to have explored at night with the sculptural trees and bridgewalk all illuminated. It looks stunning in pictures and I’m sure it would have been beautiful to see live. That said, we opted to just walk around the area for a little while, take in the Cloud and Flower Domes and explore the pathways that lead around the garden. It was a great walk, and we were able to pick back up the bus afterwards to keep our day going.

Next up, The Botanical Gardens. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I love flowers. LOVE. Any flower, any color, I just love them! So walking around the botanical gardens was a must for our trip. The gardens are so peaceful and they have a variety of of little gardens you can walk through. My favorites were the Orchid Garden (worth the fee-the botanical gardens in general are free of charge), the fragrance garden and our walk through the rainforest area.

Once we finished up here, we hopped back on the bus and stopped on Orchard Road, one of the big shopping districts in Singapore. Not really to do any shopping but our hotel and many restaurants were close enough to this stop that we just explored the area as we made our way back towards the Quays (pronounced ‘keys’–little ports along the river).

We had dinner in Clark Quay, sharing the famous Singapore Chili Crab, definitely a must try if you are okay with spicy foods, the flavor was really good, and even though it was extremely messy to eat, it was fun to share the experience and try the dish!

Day two we walked through the Quays a bit more, starting our morning in Clark Quay which is a bit quieter in the daylight than at night, but so beautiful to see with all of it’s pretty colors. We made our way back over to Orchard Road for brunch before finding the bus again (we opted for the 48 hour pass). We road around the city a bit and then transferred to a bus to go to Sentosa Island.

Sentosa Island has free shuttle/trolley transportation all around it, so we made our way to the Southernmost point of Continental Asia. Found a little spot on the beach and relaxed until the heat got to us. The palm trees were just as picturesque as you’d imagine they would be but we couldn’t stand the heat, so we made our way over to the center of the island to visit the Sentosa Merlion. I liked exploring this little part of the island. We got coffee, found a roaming peacock, saw the Merlion up close and then treated ourselves to popsicles before heading back to the bus stop.

From there we made our way back to the city center, hopped off the bus and just meandered. We made the iconic stop at Raffles Hotel and walked through the areas you are allowed if you aren’t a guest and it is stunning. If we win the lotto we will go back to Singapore and stay at the Raffles and have all the Singapore Slings and it will be fabulous. Until then, we will just enjoy the architecture.

We made our way through to the financial area, spotted a few more pretty little buildings and then found ourselves at the Singapore Merlion at sunset. It was the perfect place to see the really remarkable architecture that fills the Singapore skyline. Really a great way to end our last night in Singapore.

We walked along the river after sunset, got a little lost again and then found our way to Boat Quay for dinner where we had more delicious local foods before calling it a night.

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Day three, we took one last look around our area, behind Clark Quay and then called a cab and headed to the airport. We really enjoyed our time here, and although we made a list of all the things we would do if and when we ever come back, I think we filled our time really well and got to see everything we wanted to see.

Overall, Singapore felt like a really modern city, the food was great with a huge selection of cuisine you could get anything, the sites were beautiful and we really got our trip started on the right foot here!

Next stop in Southeast Asia: Georgetown on Penang Island, Malaysia! Check back tomorrow for all of the details.

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Fall Farmers Market Menu + CONTEST

I love the farmers market. Plain and simple–I just love it. I love the friendly people, I love meeting the people in my neighborhood at the market on our park. I look forward to it in the late spring early summer when it gets started and I dread it coming to a close each fall.

But(!), before it does come to a close, I love getting inspired by all the farm fresh fall flavors. (Try saying that 5 times fast.) I wanted to share a menu I put together that was inspired by the local goodies I picked up at my local market (which is sadly now closed), and hopefully you can pick up some fresh goodies to do your own farm fresh menu from your local market. We have a few others in neighboring hoods that are still up and running

Fall Farmers Market Menu 1

Savory Bacon & Brussel Sprout Galette. Modified from a sweet galette recipe from Bon Apetite, I used gluten free all purpose flour and walnuts for the crust and replaced the cinnamon with a savor spice blend. For the filling, I used a little spread of ricotta on the base (don’t get carried away here, it’s just to add some depth and because I love ricotta), layered on TONS of shredded sprouts and then snipped a few pieces of bacon over the top. It was so good, it was hard not to eat the whole thing.

Fall Farmers Market Menu 2

Italian White Bean & Kale Soup. I love a good soup in the fall, and it’s especially good if you can dump everything into the crock pot in the morning and come home to dinner. For this recipe, I used white beans, pink kidney beans and great north beans (1 can of each), dumped into the pot with their juices (more flavor) a few cloves of crushed garlic, a diced onion, and corn…now the corn you can use farm fresh if you have access, or canned (drained) or frozen will work just as well. Add either chicken or veggie stock to make sure you have enough liquid in the pot to cover and then some… after all this is a soup. When you get home, add in some hand torn kale and let cook til bright green. When you serve, shred on some fresh parm for extra flavor.

Fall Farmers Market Menu 3

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Cream Sauce & Asparagus. For this dish, I roasted my squash (you can use whatever your fave fall squash is) in the oven with just a drizzle of oil and salt. At the same time I put one head of garlic in the oven to roast (wrapped in foil with the top cut off, and a little oil drizzled on top) with a dish of mushrooms to roast as well. While that was all cooking away I made a rue on the stove as a base to the sauce. Once the mushrooms came out of the oven I added them to the rue with all their juices to really create a sauce. When the squash comes out pour the mushroom heavy super flavorful sauce on top and dive in… it is so good… I could’ve eaten the sauce with a spoon.

Fall Farmers Market Menu 4

Garden Variety Pepper Meatloaf & Smashed Potatoes. For this loaf, I used a bunch of random peppers from the market, more flavor than spice, but get what you like. I diced everything up to the same size including an onion and then mixed with ground turkey, worcestershire sauce, one slice of gf bread (pulsed in the food processor to create crumbs), and an egg. I didn’t have a clean loaf pan, so I used a large baking dish (like 9×12 ish) and it made for a really skinny loaf…the pictures make it l But, because it was so skinny, it was so good. The flavors were amazing..seriously, I want to make all meatloaves in an over-sized pan now.

I only did four dishes, we like to have at least one night of leftovers and one date night every week so for us, four is good… for a fifth, you could always do a huge fall salad with some grilled chicken or fish on top.

Now to the contest portion of the post. See those awesome chalk board placemats pictured in the posts? Well, I won them in a contest a while back, but had been eyeing them up for quite some time before then too. I use them all the time and think it is such a fun way to add interest to your table. You can leave sweet messages for loved ones, use it as shown to let people know what they are about to feast on, or use it to write up your daily to-do list while having your breakfast.

They are fun when you are hosting as well–use them as an alternate to placecards. Or for the holidays, imagine having the kids do hand-traced turkey’s on them for Thanksgiving…how cute would that be?! Or even leaving greetings of gratitude for your guests? Well you are in luck! I pitched the idea to Chalk Lots that we do a little giveaway of their placemats and what my idea was and they so generously offered to supply the placemats, and they came out with a gorgeous new color just in time for you to select your finish when you win!!

To enter, simply follow @designbykrystle and @chalk_lots on Instagram, leave a comment below telling me how you would use your new placemats and what color you would prefer (black licorice or graham cracker) and I will announce a winner on Monday. Please make sure you follow us both on Instagram and leave your account name in your comment for confirmation, contest closes at 11:59pm ET on Sunday.

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The Language of Kindness | Weekend Recap

November is such a great month for so many reasons — my favorite of which is easily all of the gratitude. November and the feelings of Thanksgiving really do provide us all with a month to reflect and give thanks, and that is something I hope no amount of early holiday advertising can erase.

kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see. Mark Twain. quote quotes motivation inspiration monday word words Benjamin Moore Caliente AF-290

A little recap on our weekend and life in general:

P & I have been making a big push for our health this year in general, and with all of the food-focused holidays ahead, we thought we would make a push to get ahead of the belly bulge with some cleansing and general modification of our eating habits. This weekend (Friday) we started a cleanse. We opted for a juice cleanse in the form of smoothies so that we could feel like we were getting more substance in our system and not just drinking juice every day.

Basically it is four days of smoothies, one for each meal and then we can have tea, coconut water and water in between to stay hydrated. The portion sizes of the smoothies are actually really large, so we haven’t felt hungry. The first day was okay the second day was miserable — I was a complete mess and I wanted to cheat so badly, but I didn’t. I figured this is something we wanted to do together and if P was in and doing okay I was going to keep plugging along… I went to bed early and woke up yesterday feeling so much better. Sunday was almost too easy with the smoothies, our energy was back up, things were good.

Today is the last day of smoothies and after this we are going to be transitioning back to whole foods, heavy on the produce with vegetarian proteins easing towards lean proteins (like chicken and fish) and I want to do some more research on processed foods and what choices would be better than others as well for this next phase. Does anyone know anything about tofu and where it falls here?

Smoothie CleanseFrom a work perspective, P worked the whole weekend, and I worked my regular Friday plus a consult in the evening, Saturday plus some materials shopping in the afternoon, and Sunday we took B for a walk, watched Inside Out, I ran errands, did a floor plan and put together the base lines for a scheme on a new project.

Then when P’s shift (and the Giants’ game) ended, we went for a long walk around the park to enjoy this beautiful night! (And to kick some butt on our weekend Fitbit challenges-my family all has them and they are a bit obsessed — in a good way — about doing the weekly and weekend competitions.)

So, all said and done, a few things I’m thankful for? I am so appreciative for my hubby, someone who is there on this journey to help support me during every aspect of our life from fitness to careers and so much more. I am grateful for my mom who raised us to have such a strong knowledge of being healthy and fit, not skinny. I am thankful for following my heart into the crazy world of design as I know I am so fortunate to have a career that I am passionate about. And I’m thankful for Brantley who provides us unconditional love, always.

How was your weekend? Does this time of year make you thankful for anything? Today’s quote graphic is a great quote from Mark Twain on the language of kindness and I think it is so true… kindness is everything. (Graphic background is on Benjamin Moore’s Caliente AF-290..such a beautiful shade of red for the fall season!)

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Gluten-Free Bacon Scones

Commence drooling. Gluten Free Bacon Scones-fresh from the oven

A few weeks back, my sister shared on Instagram that she was having a bacon scone, and it’s times like those when I start to really hate having a gluten sensitivity. Then that feeling is immediately followed by the determination to make my own gluten-free variation of that tasty treat.

Wholesome Chow Gluten Free Scone Mix

I happened to walk into a store the next day (literally one day after my sister shared the post) and found Wholesome Chow‘s gluten-free vegan (if you don’t add bacon) scone mix, and I scooped it up!

Then when we had to cancel our little getaway due to the weather, I knew I had to make it for our anniversary weekend. What better way to show you care than with baked goods and bacon? (Talk about love!)

These were the easiest things to make too. I put some bacon in the oven while I was getting the ingredients together. I followed the instructions on the packaging, swapping out the oil for bacon grease (again, droooool…), and then I took some of the crispy slices of bacon out of the oven (I used four slices of bacon for eight scones) and used kitchen scissors to snip them into little bits, mixed them into the dough and then scooped them onto the baking sheet (which I also greased with the excess bacon grease. (I might have gotten a bit excited about the whole bacon experience.

I baked as recommended on the packaging and then plated them with, yep you guessed it, more bacon! While I cooked, P made us espresso, and then we settled in with our delectable breakfast.

Chalk Lots Chalkboard Placemat Anniversary Chalk Board

I plated them on our Crate & Barrel plates that were a wedding gift and served them on a Chalk Lots chalkboard place mat, which I won a few weeks back and when I received them in the mail this sweet message was on the top place mat. I don’t even know how Leslie knew that we were newlyweds, but she did her research and somehow sent us this sweet note that really made my day and made serving this breakfast on our anniversary weekend extra special!

What recipes have you been drooling over lately? Do you ever have to try and reinvent recipes to accommodate your dietary restrictions? I’m getting pretty good with swapping out ingredients and making things gluten free!

Anniversary Love | i carry your heart

If you follow the blog, then you saw this post, and if you follow DBK on Instagram or Facebook, then you know as well. Yesterday was our first anniversary! In keeping with a typical Monday post for the blog, I wanted to share a quote, this one, not so motivational or inspirational, but sentimental.

I Carry Your Heart by ee cummings Wedding Reading

These words are from an E. E. Cummings poem that P’s sister read as part of our ceremony, and I love every single line of the poem, though this is just an excerpt. (The graphic background color is Benjamin Moore’s Summer Plum–our wedding colors were plum and sunflower yellow!)

We had planned on going camping this weekend and taking Brantley with us to go hiking and soak up the foliage and scenic views, but Joaquin was supposedly coming and we decided that we better not take the chance of having a muddy camping experience. Instead, we stayed home!

I think it was a great decision, we got a few things done around the house that have been on the list for far too long, had brunch with some good friends, and went out for an amazing dinner last night in downtown Jersey City at VU with amazing service that celebrated our anniversary and really made it a special night, soaking up stunning skyline views of Manhattan. Then today, I made a delicious breakfast and then we found a great park with a hiking loop and still got to take Brantley for a good long hike–I think he will sleep for days.

All in all, it was so much fun reminiscing about our wedding day and all of the amazing memories that we have made in the year since. I can’t wait to see what this next year holds for us!

And, for those of you who are wondering what we ended up exchanging for the traditional first anniversary gifts? P got me the Kate Spade, Little Gold Book notebook, and I got him a personalized leather bound writers journal with a little note inscribed for motivation every time he opens it.

How was everyone’s weekend? Did you all stay dry from whatever storm was passing and get to enjoy this crisp fall air? I think later this week I’m going to make a fall bucket list, there’s a tag for this that has been floating around Instagram, and I think I’ve gotta join in on the fun! What things should I be sure to add to the list for this season?

Labor Day Weekend Recap [And a Recipe]

We spent Labor Day weekend with my in-laws at their new place down by the Jersey Shore and what a glorious, relaxing and restful weekend it was.

I had a hectic install Friday morning that I dragged P along to help with, and then we hit the road, exhausted and ready for a long weekend. We ordered pizza for dinner from a local pizza place that had a gluten-free crust made from scratch that was so delicious!

Saturday we went crabbing (caught 3 blue claw crabs!) and made up a little appetizer on the fly–3 crabs isn’t really enough meat for more than an appetizer for 4 people to share. Then Saturday night, we went over to Seaside, played mini golf, rode the sky-lift ride with great views of the coast and the boardwalk, enjoyed my favorite summertime treat (Kohr’s Brothers frozen custard–the only flavor worth getting is the vanilla-orange swirl), we even rode some of the rides!

Sunday, we drove around Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, walked around shopping, took in a few views of the coast, explored a trail with Brantley and enjoyed the sunny weather. That evening we drove out through the marshlands to West Creek for a dinner at sunset that, between the views and the food, did not disappoint.

Monday we took it easy in the morning, stopped at the local fish market and picked up some fresh ingredients for dinner and had a quick lunch of grilled burgers and hot dogs before we went over to the pool. The pool was beautiful and so refreshing, I was so relaxed that I even fell asleep at the pool! We capped off the weekend with a Kitchen Clambake courtesy of Ina Garten’s recipe, that was probably among the top 10 best home cooked meals I’ve ever had in my life!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!

Recipe: Spicy Cheesy Crab Balls

-Meat from 3 crabs (Boil fresh caught crabs with Oid Bay for 10 minutes and refrigerated until cool enough to handle, before meat is removed.)

-1/3 cup cheddar cheese

-Jalapeños (seeds removed)

-2 Corn Tortillas

Rough chop the jalapenos, corn tortillas and cheese and combine ingredients into a food process. Chop until all elements are well blended and a dough is created.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out the mixture and roll into balls. Heat vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet until it bubbles. Drop balls into oil and let them cook, rotate them so that all areas cook, keep them in for a good few minutes until they brown and then remove and place them onto a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Repeat until all of the crabby cheesy goodness has been cooked, insert toothpicks and serve. Make sure to eat one for yourself as you bring them out to the masses or else you might not get any of these tasty morsels!! Enjoy!

5 on Friday|Ready for the Weekend!

Some weeks, the weekends are just more exciting than others.

JC Project Eats

1.This weekend, if you are in New Jersey, driving/train-ride distance to Jersey City, you should stop by! Right outside the town hall there will be LOADS of food, drinks and good times, for Project Eats Food Festival.

2. My Seattle Mariners are in town this weekend playing the Yankees, so P & I are headed out to the game on Sunday and will be clad in opposing teams’ gear. I love going to ballgames, it is always such a good time!

Also this weekend is the Nordstrom Anniversary sale. (I must’ve watched their Instagram post about it on repeat for 15 minutes yesterday.) Here are my picks:

3. Fashion Accessories: What woman doesn’t love a good handbag?! I was in a car accident back in early April, and ever since I’ve been looking for a small cross body-bag is stylish but that won’t weigh me down. These three are perfect. (Left to Right: Vince Camuto “Baily” in Roebuck, Kate Spade “Cedar Street-Monday” in Rose Jade, Rebecca Minkoff “Mini 5-Zip” in Latte.)

The second row is filled with over-sized scarves that look so cozy they’re making me itch for autumn. Classy enough to wear to work, cozy enough to nap in and perfect for jet-setting. What’s not to love? (L to R: Halogen Cashmere Travel Wrap, Halogen Brushed Floral Print Wrap, BP Geo Print Poncho.)

4. For the home, I’ve selected linens & entertaining pieces.

If you have been reading DBK for any length of time, you may already know that I am a bit of a linen snob. I love lush and decadent linens. Any of these would be great to update your master bedroom or refresh a guest bedroom. The bedding on the left is a reversible duvet set, solid either navy or grey on one side, patterned on the other, perfect to get you through the whole year! The sheet sets are simple, lux and cozy. The Creamsicle colored throw is the perfect way to add in a pop of color and texture to any bed or seating. Lastly, it’s always nice to have some decorative patterned towels to mix in with the solid ones, this option comes in a variety of colors to fit perfectly with any scheme.

In addition to my love for linens, I love to entertain. Hosting friends for anything from brunch to dinner, drinks to game night should be a treat, and with the right serving pieces, you can make prepping for any gathering less of a chore. I love these mason jar style serving pitchers, and they pair perfectly with monogrammed mason jars (with straws)! It doesn’t get much easier than topping off a pitcher and letting your guests help themselves! Copper Moscow Mule mugs make the perfect vessel for everything from it’s refreshing namesake to a hot buttered rum in the Fall, no bar cart should be without them!

5. When we aren’t busy shopping, eating, or rooting for the away team, I’m going to be perusing through our new travel books, purchased on Prime Day, they should be arriving today, and if there is one thing I love more than cozy linens and a scarf made for jet-setting, it’s layering on that scarf, crawling into that bed with a glass of wine and a travel book, dreaming about destinations afar.

What are your plans this weekend? Will you be shopping or heading out to any fairs or festivals? Or maybe just grabbing a book and heading to the beach? Whatever you are doing, I hope you get your fill and enjoy the weekend!

Red | White | Blue | Waffles

As promised (and sorry it is so late), here is our fun patriotic breakfast in honor of this past weekend!

Strawberry Blueberry Waffles 1For the 4th of July, I thought it would be fun to do a little red, white & blue breakfast, and I happened to find fresh strawberries and blueberries at the farmer’s market, so it was meant to be. I broke out the waffle maker and got to mixing!

I love blueberries mixed into waffles and pancakes, but I prefer the strawberries as a topping. If you haven’t tried roasting fruit, it’s a must-try, especially if you are entertaining. The flavor becomes very full bodied. For these strawberries, I simply cut them, sprayed them with coconut oil, mixed in some vanilla and popped them into the oven at 325 degrees. You will be able to smell when they are finished, but expect it to be around 20 minutes.

Once the waffles came out of the waffle maker, I just placed a few on plates, topped them with the roasted strawberries and voila, breakfast of champions. Such a great way to start the day. Not only is it a beautiful breakfast with all the colors, it is healthy and easy to make too!

Triple Batch Of Pancakes

The Secret to Weekday pancakes 1

I have found that weekday mornings it is almost impossible to have a good breakfast. Every day it’s the same old routine… I make coffee and guzzle the first mug while I’m getting ready, load up my bag and make a second cup to go. But I need more than just coffee (factor kids into the mix and I’m going to be screwed when that day comes!)… so typically I will have a piece of fruit and some protein in the late afternoon at my desk while I’m working. But, you know what would be better than any of that? Pancakes to kick off the day! If only it weren’t such an ordeal to make a batch of pancakes. Weekday Pancakes 3Weekday Pancakes 1

Weekday Pancakes 2

What I like to do when I’m whipping up a batch of pancakes at home is triple the batch and add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. After they have been cooked up, I rip off several pieces of parchment paper, wide enough to fit a pancake, and then I layer on the pancakes. I like to put them in sets of three, with the parchment paper in between. The paper is the perfect size to put a pancake on, fold the paper over, add the second pancake, fold again, and place the last pancake. Then you can take your pancake bundle and put it in the freezer.

Weekday Pancakes 4

Weekday Pancakes 8

Once the pancakes are in the freezer it’s so easy to just grab a bag, put them on a plate and heat them up in the microwave, or pop them right into the toaster oven. They are so good, so easy and they keep you full so much longer in the morning… why not start your weekdays off on a better note? Not to mention if you do have kiddos, this is a serious crowd pleaser with minimal morning effort!

The Secret To Weekday Pancakes 2