Friday Faves

photo 1

{make your own ice cream sandwich at Hello Robin}

What are you up to this weekend? I’m heading to the coast for my cousin’s bachelorette party – we’re excited for some cooler beach temperatures after another sweltering week. And Baby Nephew Watch 2014 is officially ON – T minus one week to go.  I’m so excited I can hardly stay away from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale bear it. Doctor says he might be early, so next week’s Friday Faves could be all baby pics (don’t say I didn’t warn you)!! My poor sis is more than ready for him to make his debut, but I’m hoping he sits tight until at least Wednesday so that he’s a Leo (not that I particularly care about astrological signs, but I’ve bought him a LOT of lion stuff and I don’t want it to be for naught). 

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. Links and faves to get you through your Friday morning (and the links even have a theme this week, I’m getting so fancy!):

  • How to grill anything and everything – so many helpful tips! 
  • How to make entertaining look easy – I would add “get yourself ready ahead of time.”  My aunt threw a dinner party this past Christmas and told me she told my uncle beforehand “our goal is to be sitting on the couch with a glass of wine half an hour before the guests arrive.” I’m usually still drying my hair when my guests arrive, but the thirty minute/wine/couch rule is now my goal too.
  • How to be the most popular person at a party – my friend Larisa brought these to a beach weekend a couple months ago and they were amazing! 
  • How to cure a headache – I need this! 
  • How to get really excited about this movie – ok this really isn’t a “how to” – but it does make me VERY excited for October 3rd!!  I hope you’ve all read the book – even if you hated the ending.  And if you haven’t read it yet, you have 2.5 months! 

photo 1-5

{my new summer obsession – stumptown cold brew}

photo 1

{love this organic lip/cheek color}

photo-13

{peaceful summer evening at the driving range}

photo-7

{some pics from my sister’s baby shower last month –  can you tell we were pretty into our alligator theme? invitations and banner from olive + star, alligator brownie toppers from etsy, DIY vases, cookie favors by yours truly, and cordy roy and his mini radio flyer from auntie/hostess Amanda}

photo-10

{and of course, my gift to baby p – hopefully he’s a baseball fan!}

Advertisements

Friday Faves

image

Happy fall, friends! Technically I’m two days ahead of schedule, as the equinox isn’t until Sunday, but its starting to really feel like the seasons are changing in Seattle. All my summer weddings are over, the air is getting crisp, and we’re almost four weeks into football season, so autumn is pretty much here in my book. Which is good news for so many reasons, including all of the pumpkin-themed recipes I get to start making. Cookies, muffins, soups, granola – I hardly know where to begin. And that’s just pumpkin, don’t even get me started on squash and root vegetables. If you have any favorite fall recipes, I would love to hear them in the comments. (I made these pumpkin snickerdoodles for a “new baby dinner” last week, if you’re in a baking mood this weekend – pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin granola coming Monday).

image

How fun are these vodka escort cards at my friends’ Jody and Anton’s (half) Russian wedding last weekend?

image

Love the fig garnish on this gorgeous tart (obviously not homemade, but maybe someday).

image

I adore all of the beetle print happening at Tory Burch right now. Including this bag, and the Jasmine top that my idol Mindy Kaling wore on her press tour this week (seen here).

image

Hawks tailgate on Sunday – crab feed, Philly cheese steaks, green and blue cupcakes and Jell-O shots, the Manning bowl, flip cup, and a tailgate puppy named Mosley. Have I mentioned how much I love fall?!?

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope yours is filled with pumpkin and tailgates, and/or anything else that you love about this season.

Friday Faves

Well, we made it through yet another week – I’m so proud of all of us. Despite the fact that work has been crazy for me lately, I love how weekdays in the summer just feel like 4-5 annoying days between one weekend getaway and the next. I’m off to Leavenworth tonight for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law’s bachelorette party, and I’m looking forward to some wine and girl time – although a little nervous about the 97 degree temps. The food is made, my bags are packed (kind of), the car is gassed up – now all I need is for 5 pm to get here. In the meantime, some highlights from the week:

This morning got off to a great start as I was uncharacteristically ahead of schedule, so I had time before work to go to my favorite neighborhood coffee place. So much better than Starbucks, if only I could get it together to make it there every morning.

I attended what I thought was a charity golf tournament for Treehouse after work last night – I had been really stressing about my golf game (and golf outfit), so I was pleasantly surprised to learn it was actually just putt-putt. Still a gorgeous night on the (mini) golf course though!

You can’t tell from the sign, but these are called “dinnerplate” dahlias and they are the size of my head. I cannot wait until I have a yard large enough to plant some. Love dahlia season!

Delicious dinner at Cactus the other night – what is it about summer that makes me want to go to Cactus every night?

“1” and wave cookies for my little cous-nephew’s first birthday last weekend (cous-nephew is the technical term for one’s cousin’s baby boy, in case anyone was wondering:)). I still have a ways to go on my frosting techniques, but practice makes perfect, right?!

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’re all getting ready to head out somewhere sunny, too – make sure to pack your sunscreen!

How To: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with frosted sugar cookies over the past few years – I think they are the sweetest, most adorable cookies when they look good, but try as I might, I’ve never been able to perfect those perfectly straight borders and smooth finishes. I’ve spent many a Sunday afternoon frosting pink and red Valentines Day hearts, green St. Patty’s Day shamrocks, pink and blue onesies for baby showers, and countless Christmas designs – and they never seem to turn out quite as well as I’d hoped.  Some of my prior attempts, and cookie inspirations, below:

Top to bottom, left: pink onesies for my friend Heather’s baby shower a couple years ago, cacti and chili peppers for my friend Karrie’s “fiesta” themed baby shower last summer, life preservers for my friend Courteney’s nautical themed baby shower last fall. Top right: the way I want my cookies to look someday – hippos for my friend Lindsay’s baby shower, made by the oh-so-talented Yoona Park; bottom right: when I just gave up and ordered cookies off of Etsy (link here – I would completely recommend this woman) for my friend Amanda’s shower (also nautical themed).  On a related note – I’m starting to think I need to come up with a new baby shower favor idea.  Also, one reason I can never quit social media, no matter how often I’m tempted – I was able to dig up all of these pics, which have long been deleted from my phone.

So, when my friend Kristen told me she had taken a sugar cookie decorating class, of course I begged her to come over and share some (all) of her secrets. Not realizing it would be over ninety degrees this weekend, we made plans to get together for a cookie decorating party/tutorial session on Sunday afternoon.  Kristen picked out two designs she thought would be good basics, and despite the sweltering heat, we got to work.

The most important part of a perfect sugar cookie (I’m going to go ahead and use the word perfect, although mine still have a ways to go, but “perfect” meaning what we’re all aspiring towards) is the consistency of the icing. The first time I used meringue powder (essentially dried egg whites in powdered form, it’s what makes the frosting dry solid), I followed the recipe on the tub, which makes a pretty thick frosting – and then assumed there was something wrong with the way I frosted.  As it turns out, it was the recipe’s fault, not mine – I just needed to add more water.  I used to always ask Yoona (of the perfect hippos, above) what her secret was, and when she told me to thin the frosting with water I assumed she was just trying to hide her actual secrets from me. Turns out she was telling the truth – that’s really all you have to do. 

There’s some debate about whether it’s best to use a thicker frosting to outline your cookies, and then a thinner frosting to flood, or rather to just use a medium-thick consistency for both.  There are a number of tutorials online that can explain the frosting better than I can – I like this one (I also used her cookie recipe) and this one. For the squares, we ended up with a consistency that was thick enough to hold a line when you outlined the shape of the cookie, but thin enough that it would “flood” the outline and spread into a smooth surface once flooded.

To do the pinwheel design, we thinned the frosting even more, so that the colors would bleed into the white and dry as one smooth finish. We outlined with the thicker white so that the circle would hold its shape, and then flooded the circle with the thinned white and immediately piped on the colored circles using thinned red and blue icing and with a size #2 tip on the pastry bag. I should have taken more pictures, but we were just so engrossed in our decorating that I forgot.  As soon as you’ve piped the colors on, use a toothpick to create a pinwheel, spiderweb, or “firework” shape. A better tutorial can be found here.

Kristen found this design online as well; for these, we just waited for the white to dry, and then with a thickened icing (just add more powdered sugar) and a #1 tip we drew the design on (Kristen, ever the perfectionist, used a stencil; I “freehanded” mine so they’re a little less uniform). Although my sprinkles look yellow, they are technically “gold” and were the best that I could find (shouldn’t one be able to find gold sprinkles when it’s fireworks season?!?) – I applied an edible gel with a toothpick (should have used a small paintbrush) once the red and blue frosting were dry, and then sprinkled the gold on top for a little added sparkle.

Thanks to Kristen, I have a whole new level of confidence in my royal icing skills, and thus a newfound enthusiasm for the next baby shower I get to host. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July – and if you want to hire Kristen for your next party, let me know – she does amazing cakes and cupcakes too!