Carrot Zucchini Muffins

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I splurged on a carrot zucchini muffin at a coffee shop a couple weeks ago and have been fighting the urge to get another one every day since. That’s the problem with treating yourself, I find – once you start, it’s so hard to stop. This particular carrot zucchini muffin appeared wholesome, but it tasted enough like carrot cake that I knew it couldn’t become a regular indulgence.  In my defense, it didn’t have frosting….but it was the size of a large grapefruit, so truly there was no way to rationalize it.

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Since I was still craving them despite my internal pep talk every morning (“no, you don’t want that giant, sugary muffin – just order your coffee, get out of here, and go home and make a green smoothie”), I decided to try a healthier (and smaller) version at home. I did a quick google search, found a few recipes that looked good, and got to work. And by “work,” I mean, I used raw cane sugar rather than granulated, coconut oil rather than butter, and a lot more carrot and zucchini than the recipe called for. So work might be a strong word, but I did tweak the recipe a bit.

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The recipe calls for just a cup of carrot and a cup of zucchini – I found that one small zucchini yielded well over a cup, but what was I going to do with extra grated zucchini? so I threw it all in. Same with the carrots – one wasn’t enough, but two was too much – I saved some of my carrot gratings to snack on but all in all I think I put in over three cups of veggies when the recipe called for a total of two. As I think you can see from the photos, it definitely looks like way too much – when you add the carrot and zucchini to the wet ingredients you’ll think you messed something up – but somehow once you add the dry ingredients it turns into batter (albeit, a very veggie-heavy batter).

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You can top these muffins with anything you want, or nothing at all. My coffee shop muffin of course had a delicious crumble on top – I made these for the first time with just chopped pecans on top, but then when I made them a second time I got a little fancier and tossed the pecans with a little cane sugar, cinnamon, and coconut oil. Next time I might add a few oats just for fun. But they’d be fine plain too.  I would really recommend doubling this recipe, as one batch won’t get you very far.  It’s so much easier to rationalize eating them when they’re tiny and healthy – even easier in mini-muffin form (and when you eat a mini it really doesn’t count).

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Carrot Zucchini Muffins (adapted from Gimme Some Oven)

Yield: 12 regular or 24 mini muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar or turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) coconut oil, melted
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated zucchini (approx. one small-medium)
1 cup grated carrot (approx. one very large or two small-medium)
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
1/2 cup all-purpose flour*
1/2 cup whole wheat flour* (I used whole wheat pastry flour, but regular should be fine)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

*or any combination of flours you want to total one cup. The original recipe called for one cup of white whole wheat flour, which I didn’t have on hand so I just used half white and half whole wheat.  I think a little almond flour and/or oat flour would be really good here too.

Directions: 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line your muffin pan with paper liners, or spray with cooking spray (I would recommend “PAM for baking” as the muffins tended to stick to the liners – the PAM made your muffin pan look a lot less pretty but the muffins popped right out).

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, egg, and salt.  Add in veggies and nuts (if using) and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine.  Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full.  Top with extra nuts if you’d like.

Bake 20-25 minutes for regular muffins, 10-15 minutes for mini.  Muffins are done when the tops are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a muffin in the center of the pan comes out clean. Let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

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Friday Faves

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{homemade muffins + pretty bouquet}

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been gray and rainy here all week, and I’ve had a nasty cold, so I’m extra ready for the weekend. What are your plans? I made two delicious recipes this week for the blog but didn’t manage to post either of them, so I might work on that.  My cousin delivered a baby girl in Edinburgh an hour ago, so I get to go pick out a little something tiny and pink to send over to Scotland. Movie date to finally go see The Wolf of Wall Street tomorrow night (should we even bother?)….. and of course, games three and four of the Portland/Houston series tonight and Sunday. I’m predicting the Blazers sweep!

Some fun links and photos to help you make it to 5 pm:

  • How to wear bronzer (I have a tendency to overdo it so this is helpful!)
  • This article reminded me of my grandpa
  • I might need to try these asap (as I’ve recently rediscovered my love for Nutella)
  • Happy (belated) birthday, Suri
  • Love this new Tumblr!  (My friend Jessie just bought that LK Bennett dress and she spilled a cup of tea on it and it’s ruined, how sad is that?)

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{all new products for my over-processed hair}

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{I told you I wanted these!}

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{mid-cookie-baking snack}

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{weekly baby nephew purchases – t minus three months!! Sleeper, teether, rattle, blanket}

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{the back is the cutest part!}

Friday Faves: Easter Edition

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{antique ceramic bunny that belonged to my grandmother}

Happy Good Friday! I hope everyone is looking forward to a weekend full of sunshine (?), egg hunts, and chocolate. What are some of your favorite Easter traditions? I love going to mass with my family on Sunday morning – our parish has the most amazing choir and they sing almost all of my favorite “church songs” at Easter mass.  I used to love indulging in whatever I had given up for Lent at brunch, but this year I didn’t give up anything so I guess that’s out.  My eight year old cousin told me last night that Lent ends the Wednesday before Holy Thursday, has anyone ever heard of this?  He claims the priest at his school told his whole class.  Theoretically, the priest would know better than me, but I was skeptical so we looked it up and the answer isn’t entirely straightforward.  I’m choosing to stick with my lifelong understanding that Lent ends on Easter, but Nolan gave up chocolate this year and he really wanted to eat a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich last night, so he’s going with what his priest told him.  If anyone can shed any light on this debate, I would love to hear it in the comments.

I found some fun Easter links for you, and then dug up all of the old B&B recipes that I thought would be good for an Easter brunch (since I didn’t get it together to make anything new).  And then, of course, some faves from the week (three weeks in a row – I’m really on a roll!).  Wishing you all a wonderful Easter weekend!

  • 40 ways to decorate eggs
  • Last minute basket inspiration – I love the idea of the ceramic berry baskets (and just for the record, I had my Paper Source grass well before I saw this post!)
  • How adorable are these muffins? I’m trying to stay away from wheat but I might have to cheat and make/eat these on Sunday.
  • Remember when Easter meant a new dress? This year I would pick this one.
  • Easter egg cookies – easier than they look!

Easter on B&B, previously: Blueberry MuffinsLeek and Swiss Chard Tart, Blueberry Cornmeal Coffee Cake, Coconut Cupcakes and Carrot Muffins, Leek Bread Pudding and Coconut Loaf, Chocolate Peanut Butter Meringues

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{easter glassybaby: evelyn, grass (not available online), sweet pea, canary}

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{easter lilies}

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{bulk chocolate eggs}

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Everyone seemed to find it pretty odd that I made an Easter basket for a baby due this summer – I don’t really understand why, but I guess perhaps not everyone loves buying baby gifts as much as I do? I had so much fun putting it together – and someday Baby P will know how much I loved him even before he was born, even if his mother thinks I’m nuts. Basket and liner from Pottery Barn Kids, safari blanket from Serena & Lily, sleeper from Hanna Anderson, books from Amazon, bottle from Life Factory (and filled with peanut butter M&Ms, which might have been the hit of the basket), bunny lovey and rattle from Bunnies by the Bay, paper grass from Paper Source (seems minor, but good easter basket grass is harder to find than you might think!).

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Meringues

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A few weeks ago I posted a cookie recipe from Miraval, the spa I was lucky enough to visit back in February. I wrote about the cooking class we took, but what I failed to mention is what we snacked on during the cooking class. Meals at Miraval are pretty outrageous – at dinner you sit down and order off a menu, but for breakfast and lunch they have an amazing buffet where you can (mindfully) help yourself to all sorts of fresh, healthy foods.  Each day at lunchtime we got to pick from a beautiful salad bar, delicious soups, wraps, healthy entrées, etc. – and then there were always a few tiny treats to choose from as well.  The day my sister-in-law and I attended the cooking demo, they were serving these cookies – perfect timing because we were then able to ask the pastry chef about them in class (after everyone was not-so-mindfully going back for seconds).

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Kim, the pastry chef, told us these are one of the recipes people ask her for the most, and then proceeded to tell us how easy they are to make. Start with a basic meringue – egg whites plus sugar – and simply add chocolate and peanut butter. How have I not thought of this before? They’re a perfect Miraval treat as they’re relatively low fat/low cal, they’re naturally gluten free, and if you use dairy free chocolate chips you can make them dairy free as well. The recipe calls for organic peanut butter, I used Adam’s no stir creamy – there’s a fair amount of sugar in the meringue “batter” so I think the saltier the peanut butter, the better. Almond butter would also be really good. The recipe calls for mini semisweet chocolate chips, but I suspected these would be even more delicious with dark chocolate – and it turns out I was right. It’s all personal preference though, of course, so you could use whatever peanut butter and chocolate chips you like.

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Kim told us that the best way to stir the peanut butter into the batter is to put it in a ziplock bag, snip off a tiny corner, and “pipe” the peanut butter into the egg white mixture. I’m including the recipe as it appears in the cookbook, where it tells you to drop the peanut butter in by the spoonful, but Kim’s way is easy and fun. Next time I might try to use the piping bag to add it in in little tiny dollops, as my giant swirl needed a bit of stirring to mix into the egg whites, and that of course deflated them. They still turned it pretty dang good, however, and the chunks of peanut butter are my favorite part (I would love to make these with crunchy peanut butter next time, but worried the weight might deflate the egg whites even more).

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The cookbook lists chopped pecans as a topping for the cookies, but Kim used sliced almonds and they’re perfect with the delicate meringue (and will be even more perfect when I try these with almond butter). You could use any nut you like, however, or omit them entirely. No matter how you customize them, they’re simple and delicious. I’m not a huge chocolate person (the lemon raspberry cookies are really more my style), but of course I still ate quite a few of these while at Miraval, when my sis-in-law made them as soon as we were back, and of course now that they’re sitting on the counter while I type this. The best part is they’re practically guilt free – or at least as close to guilt free as you’re going to get when there’s chocolate and peanut butter in the title.  If you try them, let me know how you tweak them and how they turn out!

Miraval, previously: Magic Bars, Lemon Raspberry Cookies, Arugula Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Meringues, from Miraval’s Sweet & Savory Cooking

Yield: 20-30 cookies

3 egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter (preferably organic)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup nuts, optional (chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, chopped peanuts, sliced or slivered almonds)

Heat the oven to 200 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar, and then the vanilla.

Drop spoonfuls of peanut butter throughout the meringue (or pipe as discussed above) and sprinkle the chocolate chips all over. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the peanut butter and chocolate chips into the meringue, leaving streaks of peanut butter throughout (you want it to stay in chunks rather than getting incorporated into the egg whites). Take care not to deflate the meringue (this is tricky, mine deflated a bit but my cookies were still ok).

Drop spoonfuls of meringue (about 3/4-ounce or 1 1/2 tablespoons) onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with nuts (if using). Bake for about 45 minutes (I got engrossed in the Patagonia sale online and mine accidentally stayed in for almost an hour – luckily they were ok). Test for doneness by removing one cookie from the oven, letting it cool for two minutes, and then testing to see if the outside is crispy and the inside slightly soft. Let cool at room temperature on the baking sheet and store in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: one cookie (based on a yield of 30 cookies)
Calories: 45
Total fat: 2 grams
Carbs: 27 grams
Dietary fiber: 0 grams
Protein: 1 gram

Friday Faves

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Wine tasting at Winderlea in the Willamette Valley – amazing pinots.

Can you guys believe it’s Friday again already? Where did the week go?  I feel like life has gotten so busy all of the sudden – I guess it’s just the time of year.  I’ve had “pedicure” on my to do list for over two weeks now and still haven’t made it to the nail salon – very unlike me!

Anyway…..people seemed to like the links last week, so I found five more. And then five highlights from the week – I’m trying to get back into my “Friday Faves routine” (I couldn’t help adding another baby item at the end!).  I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  • Thank you notes: no longer a lost art?
  • My favorite asparagus tart (so easy!!)
  • Fun hair tutorial from a new favorite blog – so cute and fun for spring/summer
  • Perfect bright pink nail color
  • I wouldn’t mind this life (I have the same pink shorts!)

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My new weekend staple (no longer available online, but similar here, sale version here) – this was almost a selfie, but I caught myself 🙂

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Opening Day at Safeco Field

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Anthro candle + Glassybaby + vintage matches

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Can you handle the cuteness? Baby boat shoes from my new addiction, J. Crew Baby.

Leek Bread Pudding + Coconut Loaf

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{Smitten Kitchen‘s Leek Bread Pudding}

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{Sprouted Kitchen‘s Coconut Loaf}

I’m not entirely sure that these two recipes go together, but they’ve both been on my “to make” list for awhile now and they’re both made in loaf pans, so I thought maybe they should share a post. They’d also both be excellent additions to your Easter brunch menu, if you’re looking for new ideas – so that’s three things they have in common. I’ve been meaning to try the leek bread pudding for literally years now, and it did not disappoint. I’ve made the coconut bread before, but I’ve been wanting to do it for the blog and I’m so glad I did because it was even better than I remembered. I’ve been trying to avoid wheat lately, but I splurged on a piece of this fresh from the oven last night and it was worth every bite.

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This bread pudding couldn’t be easier, as bread puddings go. Just cube your bread and stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and sauté your leeks while the bread is toasting. Deb suggests stale brioche, which I’m sure is ideal, but I used a loaf of fresh french bread and it worked just fine. The recipe calls for one cup of leeks, but I used closer to two and it was delicious – and next time I might even use more (I bought three leeks and only used two of them – I think I could have used the third and it would have been a welcome addition, although it was fine with just the two. Deb also suggests you could sauté any other veggies you like along with the leeks and add them in as well).

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Layer your toasted bread cubes and leeks with cheese, pour a custard over it, and it’s ready to go into the oven. Again, the recipe calls for small amounts of chives and thyme; next time I’ll probably use more – although it was delicious as is. Deb noted that you could add more cheese as well, so of course I stirred a little grated parmesan in with my eggs and milk. It didn’t need it but of course it didn’t hurt.

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An hour later, you have a toasty, bubbling casserole that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Breakfast: warm, perhaps with an egg or bacon on top (not me personally – gross! – but others might like it that way); lunch: cold, with a crisp green salad; dinner: alongside a roasted chicken breast or something of that nature. I think it’s adorable in the loaf pan, but you could double the recipe and it would work in a 9″ X 13″ casserole dish (that’s my plan for Easter brunch). Savory bread pudding, who knew?

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And then, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, this divine coconut loaf from one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the Sprouted Kitchen blog, of course, but her cookbook is really worth getting as every recipe I’ve tried from it has been to die for.  As I’ve mentioned here many times already, I love anything with coconut,  so of course this bread is a safe bet – coconut flakes, coconut oil, and coconut milk.  I would call this recipe “healthy-ish” – it’s still a loaf of bread, and it still has sugar in it, but there’s enough whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and lack of white sugar and butter that I feel ok about eating it. I was calling it vegan until I remembered it has eggs in it (duh!), but it is dairy free.

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Again, super easy. Toast your coconut, combine your dry ingredients and your wet ones, and stir them together – two bowls, one spoon (ok, I used a spoon and a whisk), no mixer, easy cleanup. So much fun to stir cake batter with a spoon, I felt like a pioneer woman.  Is this how our grandmothers did things all those years?

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When I’ve made this recipe before I’ve never bothered with the glaze, but I did it just for blog purposes and was prepared to tell you you could skip this step – but it turns out the glaze is delicious. It adds a little extra sweetness and moisture to the cake, which isn’t necessarily needed but I appreciated it. Sara suggests serving the cake with fresh blackberries; I used strawberries here and it was SUCH a good combination. This is also something that could be served as breakfast or dessert (or perhaps just a snack!) – which I guess means it has more in common with the bread pudding than I initially thought. (Note: if you aren’t serving the cake warm from the oven, Sara suggests you toast your slices under the broiler for a minute or two).

One year ago: Chicken Pot Pie (two ways) and Chocolate Pudding

Leek Bread Pudding, from Smitten Kitchen via Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

Yield: 6 servings (as a side dish)

1 cup leeks (or more to taste), white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed, and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
Kosher (or coarse) salt
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1″ cubed crustless brioche or other bread (about one loaf)
2 teaspoons chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half (or a combination thereof – I used 2 cups whole milk and one cup half and half)
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Comté, Emmanthaler or Swiss cheese (I used Gruyère and a little extra Parmesan)

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives, and thyme to the bowl of bread and toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle two tablespoons shredded cheese in the bottom of a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another two tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Coconut Loaf, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 6-8 slices

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (I used flaked)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic powdered sugar, or more as needed
Berries, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 1/2″ loaf pan with a thin coat of coconut oil.

Spread the shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until just golden brown, about four minutes.  Watch it carefully, as it can burn quickly. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping the loaf.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the toasted coconut and the turbinado sugar.  Sift the flours, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs together, then whisk in one cup of the coconut milk, the coconut oil, and the vanilla.   Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 45-50 minutes (mine took 55). Remove loaf from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the loaf is cooling, combine 1/4 cup of the remaining coconut milk and the powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk until there are no clumps. Add more sugar or more coconut milk to taste, depending on the consistency you prefer (you won’t use the entire can of coconut milk). Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top.  Cut into slices (wait for the loaf to fully cool or your slices will crumble).  Toast each slice, if you like.  Serve with a handful of fresh berries.  YUM!!

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Friday Faves

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Tulips at the market

Happy Friday, friends! All of the tulips, daffodils, and crocuses popping up in the markets and yards make me feel like spring is finally here! Just last week I was scraping ice off my car, yet next week’s forecast is in the 70s.  Such a crazy time of year!  Some fun inspiration in honor of the season of renewal:

And then, some not-necessarily-springy highlights from my (last few) week(s). Have a wonderful weekend!

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Delicious meal at Grassa in Portland (don’t worry, this was just the first course).

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Bundt cakes (lemon poppyseed and rum) for my dear friends’ wedding last weekend – in lieu of having a traditional wedding cake, the bride asked about twenty of her girlfriends to make their favorite bundt cakes. Tragically,  my cakes and I ended up missing the wedding due to a terribly-timed bout with the norovirus, but all reports said the bundt cake table was a hit!

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Champagne cocktails at Tallulah’s in Capitol Hill – so hip.

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My new baby nephew’s first stationary from my new Etsy fave.  I’m going to try really hard not to overwhelm this blog with pics of all the baby things I can’t seem to stop buying, but I thought these were extra cute! And what unborn baby doesn’t need personalized thank you notes?