Friday Faves

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{road trip + mcdonald’s cone}

Happy Friday, everyone! Look at me, two blog posts in two days.  I’m pretty proud of myself! (Taking two months off creates a bit of a FF backlog, but I’m going to do my best to catch up over the next few weeks).  I hope everyone has exciting plans for the weekend.  I’m helping out at my family’s annual charity golf tournament tomorrow – the forecast is 97, so wish us all luck not dying of heatstroke.  I hope your plans involve a beach or a pool instead!

Some fun links to get you through your Friday:

  • Orange lipsticks – what are your thoughts? I went to Nordstrom the other night in search of the second one (the most neutral, obviously) but tragically it’s been discontinued.  I was already at the MAC counter so I tried on the first one just for fun, but of course it made me look like a clown.  And by clown I don’t just mean like someone wearing an absurd shade of orange lipstick, I mean like someone you would pay to come to your child’s birthday party wearing a rainbow-striped wig and make balloon animals. Yikes.
  • I would like one of these right this minute.
  • I’m working my way through Emily’s monthly beauty buys – so far I’m still on April, but I’m loving this series (I bet she gets all her products as gratis too, no fair).
  • I don’t think I’m as obsessed with Ryan Gosling as much as the average female between the ages of 15-50 (I’m too busy planning my future with this man), but I find all of this freaking out pretty hilarious.
  • How to Write a Wedding Speech – I wish every best man would read this!

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{my dear friend alison’s gorgeous pacific palisades wedding}

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{new favorite pinot}

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{and favorite party punch from pinot release party}

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{new favorite skincare product – thanks emily!}

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{cuddle time with my (current) favorite newborn, sweet greta jane}

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{and her adorable big brother with his birthday cupcake and his trucks}

Holiday Rum Cake

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Happy Rum Cake Blog Post Day, everyone! This cake is one of my all time favorite things to make, and thus I had every intention of posting the recipe as soon as possible (or rather, as soon as seasonally appropriate)…but of course somehow this blog fell off my radar after Thanksgiving and all of the sudden it’s December 20. Yikes. (Let’s not even talk about how my Christmas shopping is going – double yikes).

But anyways. Let’s talk about rum cake, shall we? This recipe is courtesy of my friends Courteney and Kyle, or perhaps more accurately courtesy of their mom Cyndie, since of course they got it from her. I listened to Courteney talk about her mom’s rum cake all throughout college, but never actually tried it until Kyle served one at a Christmas party a few years ago. Alcohol in desserts isn’t usually my thing (weird, I know), but one boozy, buttery bite of this cake and I was hooked – as is everyone who tries it. It’s quick and easy and makes a great holiday dessert or hostess gift, which is why I meant to post this earlier in the season for everyone’s benefit – better late than never, though, right?

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Two recipes featuring boxed cake mix within one month, how embarrassing. I’m going to have to get a little more gourmet in January to make up for it. The “butter golden” boxes can be hard to find, though, so when I see them I have to stock up.

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This cake really could not be easier to make – start with the cake mix, add eggs and oil, a box of pudding mix to make it extra moist and yummy, and of course rum in lieu of water.

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Just blend all five ingredients together and pour into a bundt cake pan.

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Cyndie’s tip is to grease the pan really well with the “PAM for baking” spray – this ensures that the cake won’t stick to the pan at all, which will make it easier for the cake to soak up the glaze.

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Making the glaze is the fun part – just dump a little more rum in a saucepan, along with water, sugar, and a stick of butter. Heat until the butter is melted and then bring the mixture to a boil – make sure to boil for the full two-three minutes so that at least some of the rum cooks out (a quick google search re: how much alcohol remains in rum cake after baking was inconclusive, but at least some of it evaporates, right?).

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Pour the glaze over the cake and let it all soak in. Flip the cake, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and voilá, the easiest and most festive “semi-homemade” cake you could ever want or need.

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Cyndie O’Brien’s Christmas Rum Cake

For cake:
One box Duncan Hines Butter Golden cake mix
One small box instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup Crisco oil (vegetable or canola oil will work)
1/2 cup dark rum, such as Meyer’s

For glaze:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup water
Powdered sugar (for dusting), optional

To make cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray bundt cake pan generously with “PAM for baking,” or grease and flour the pan well. Mix all cake ingredients well – I usually use an electric mixer and blend it for a couple minutes, but you can do it by hand if necessary. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.

To make glaze:
When the cake is almost finished baking, melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar, water, and rum. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for two to three minutes – watch carefully as it boils over easily if you aren’t stirring constantly.

To finish:
Once cake is out of oven, pour the glaze over the cake while it’s still in the pan – let the glaze soak into the cake and drain down around the edges where the cake will have pulled away from the pan a bit – this will allow the glaze to coat the sides of the cake and give the whole thing a nice buttery, rummy crust. Let the glazed cake cool in the pan for a minimum of 20 minutes (longer if possible). Flip the cake onto a cake stand or serving platter and dust with powdered sugar.

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I love making this cake in my mini bundt cake pan as well – one recipe makes six mini cakes, and they make the perfect dinner party dessert as well as great gifts. I’m also going to make bite sized cakes once I get my hands on this pan – anything for portion control! I’ll hopefully update with photos soon – there are six days left between now and Christmas (yes, I’m counting today and Christmas Day), which means there are plenty of opportunities for rum cakes of any size.

Update: bundt, mini bundt, and bite-size bundt:

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Wishing everyone a wonderful and relaxing holiday. Thanks to the lovely O’Brien ladies for letting me share their recipe! And happy rum cake baking to everyone!

Friday Faves

Hello again, Friday. It’s gray and rainy here in Seattle, and I’m loving every minute of it (I can say that only after confirming the forecast predicts a sunny 75 for my friend Jody’s wedding tomorrow). I fell asleep to a thunder and lightning storm last night, and woke up feeling more rested than I have in weeks. I know fall isn’t here to stay quite yet, but I love these first few hints of it. Between two weddings, Husky football, my fantasy draft (ESPN gave my team an A, if you were wondering), and the birth of my good friends Wes and Kyle’s new baby girl, there was a lot going on this week. A few highlights:

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{brunch at the Agua Verde Paddle Club on Lake Union}

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{beet and veggie juice at Tom Douglas’s amazing new “urban marketplace” downtown Seattle}

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{nothing better than the Sunday sports page after a huge Husky win}

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{gluten-free baking experiment from Love and Lemons}

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{nothing sweeter than a brand new baby – and nothing more fun than putting together treats for her and her family}

Happy Friday, everyone! No Husky game tomorrow, so I guess all I can say is Go Hawks!!

Friday Faves

So I realized last night that we’re halfway through August, and thus two weeks away from Labor Day. Can someone please tell me how that happened? Where did the summer go? Fall is my favorite season, so I’m not too sad, but it’s always a little scary to realize how fast time is flying by. It was almost dark at 8:30 last night – as excited as I am for sweaters and boots and football season, that kind of made me want to cry. Next week I might have to focus on more “summery” highlights, but for now, some randoms:

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Coffee and breakfast treats at my favorite Madrona café on Sunday morning, after dropping off my Glassybaby rental (let’s pretend that peach scone is a tofu scramble, Carrie Underwood-diet-style).

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Thank you gift from my friends Ellie and Charlie after our play date last Saturday night. Babysitting used to pay five dollars an hour, and I would do homework once the kids went to bed – this time I received a lovely “sussie” instead, and I got to pour myself a glass of wine and watch Mindy Project reruns after the babies went down.

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Falafel salad – my new obsession from Harried & Hungry, my favorite grab-and-go workweek lunch place. Healthy(ish) falafel recipe coming soon – such a great vegetarian (and gluten free!) option that I often forget about.

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Happy hour at Bottlehouse, my new favorite summer/deck/happy hour hang out in Madrona (where I spent a lot of time last week).

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Some of my favorite pics from my brother’s wedding last weekend (at least, from those that were on my phone) – clockwise from top left: terrible angle for me, but somehow the only picture I have of me and Joe; my hair, which I was obsessed with – after countless weddings with “meh” bridesmaid hair, finally a “messy side bun” that turned out like I wanted it to (and on a related note, anyone planning a wedding in the Portland area should call Portland Makeup and Hair immediately); the beautiful bride and groom; killing time pre-ceremony  with the adorable flower girls.

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy these last few weeks of summer while they last!

Friday Faves

Happy Friday, friends! Can you believe it’s already August? It feels like this summer – this whole year, actually – is flying by. After weeks and weeks of perfect summer weather, Seattle had its first few overcast days this week, and I know I’m a true Northwesterner because the grayness, mist, and 65 degree temperatures felt heavenly. This girl is definitely ready for football season. A few highlights from the half sunny, half gray week: image Wine tasting at Two Vintners, my new favorite Washington winery. I joined their Wine Club this past weekend and can’t wait to go back – and to drink the Grenache Blanc that I purchased (featured on Canlis’ tasting menu this month, no less). image Peach shortcake for my friend Scott’s 30th birthday dinner – homemade Smitten Kitchen biscuits, fresh peaches tossed with lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar (Scott: “are these like homemade canned peaches?”), and Ben & Jerry’s Peach Cobbler ice cream (Haagen Dazs vanilla bean on the side – no such thing as too much ice cream, right?). image Latest score from the (constant) Banana sale. The day I attempted to purchase these, they were 40% off of the first markdown – but they had to ship them from a different store, and by the time they processed the transaction the following day they were 50% off of a second, further reduced price. $130 shoes for $38, yes please! image Nordstrom Anniversary Sale “Beauty Exclusives” – $268 value for $128 – if you do the math (which I obviously did), that’s a 53% savings. Stock up before the sale ends on Sunday! image My half successful, half failed attempt at dinner last night – the all-over-Pinterest Martha Stewart one-pot pasta. I did one pot with gluten free angel hair (fail), and one with Smitten Kitchen’s farro version, which turned out delicious. I’m sure regular pasta would be fine – the rice pasta just got too gummy – but I think the fact that the farro takes 30 minutes really helps develop the flavors (the pasta only takes 7-10, so those onions still looked pretty raw to me). Wishing everyone a lovely, back-to-being-in-the-80s weekend. I’m having another peach dessert tonight (peach crisp with crème fraîche ice cream, how yummy does that sound?!) -trying to enjoy these last few summer weeks while we have them.  I suppose fall will be here soon enough.  xoxo

Friday Faves

I spent an amazing three days in Hood River, Oregon last weekend celebrating the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends.  After a late night on Friday and a very late night on Saturday, however, it’s pretty much taken me the entire week to recover.  At “29 again” (and again) I just don’t bounce back quite like I used to – gone are the days of back to back late nights on the weekend, followed by functioning like a normal/productive human being Monday through Friday.  Does this mean I’m officially old?   Totally worth every exhausted minute, though.  A few highlights from my loooooooooong week:

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“Spa water” – cucumber + lime + mint. I love keeping a pitcher in the fridge so that I’m more motivated to hydrate.

My aunt Molly and I share a love of granola (remember this?) – when I stopped by her house on my way out of Portland last weekend she sent me home with a yummy bottle of pinot gris and this bag of deliciousness – it’s made with coconut oil and coconut sugar and has been my after-dinner treat every night this week.  Healthy granola and pinot gris, best goody bag I could ever ask for.

Wine in a can, and with a bendy straw – what could be cuter?

Delicious Sunday night dinner at Cuoco – handmade parmigiano cappelletti with morel mushrooms, arugula, and peas; vanilla panna cotta with strawberries and Dahlia Bakery cookies + cappuccino.  It’s totally healthy as long as you’re sharing, right?

A few of my favorite details from Molly and Patrick’s wedding: hand-chalked welcome sign, gorgeous floral centerpieces, blueberry mojitos with striped straws being passed around during cocktail hour, and of course the spectacular Mt. Hood backdrop. It was such a fun weekend celebrating with old friends and new, and the perfect kick off to Wedding Season 2013. Congrats Molls and Pat!

 

How To: Cake Pops

Way back in my early/mid-20s, I used to get really excited about wedding and baby showers. I would spend hours picking out invitations, working on menus, trying to think up creative new themes, etc. These days, when I usually have at least one or two a month (more and more as wedding season amps up), I pretty much have them down to a science – I only get excited to try new things when they’re for people I really love. My friend Molly is one of those people, so when her sister asked me to bring cake pops to her bridal shower last month, I did what any normal person would do: signed up for a cake pop making class.

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I took the class with my friend (and cake/cookie/now cake pop decorating guru) Kristen, and we had SO MUCH FUN. The woman who taught it runs her own little catering company, which she founded after quitting Corporate America one day and enrolling in pastry school (i.e. what I dream about doing every day).  If you’re interested in taking her class in Seattle, or if you want to hire her to make your cake pops for you (turns out they’re actually pretty hard), her info can be found here.

If you want to make your own without the class, hopefully this “tutorial” will help you.  You will need:

1. Cake (any kind you like)
2. Frosting (any kind you like)
3. Ice cream/cookie scoop
4. Cake pop sticks (available at Michaels/Joanne Fabrics, Sur la Table, and often at specialty grocery stores)
5. Good quality, tempered melting chocolate (available at specialty baking shops) – tempered chocolate will dry harder and shinier than untempered chocolate
6. Sprinkles and other cake pop decorations, including colored candy melts if desired
7. Truffle papers or mini cupcake papers, for the “ball down, stick up” version (optional)
8. Styrofoam or floral foam cube, wrapping paper or fabric, and ribbon to make a display stand for the “ball up, stick down” version (optional)

1.  Our teacher had the cakes pre-baked for us, and I believe a 9 x 13 cake makes about 18-24 pops, depending upon a variety of factors such as size of cake balls, amount of frosting you mix in, how much of the crust you cut off, density of the cake, etc. So, make a cake (just a boxed mix to start with is fine, you can always fancy it up later), and get some frosting ready (homemade or Betty Crocker).

2.  “Crumb” the cake – cut off the sides and bottom if you want (not necessary, but then there are no “crispy bits” in your cake balls) and tear the cake into tiny pieces, and then crumbs.  You’ll need to really grind the cake with your fingertips until its all tiny, fine crumbs, so depending on who will be eating your cake pops you may want to wear gloves.

3.  Once the cake is finely crumbed, begin to add frosting slowly – you can always add more frosting, but its usually harder to add more cake. Mix/knead, using your hands, until the cake/frosting mixture is the texture of play dough.

4.  Scoop cake into balls using a golf-ball sized ice cream/cookie scoop. Chill for 20-30 minutes if time allows (not necessary but I think it helps).

5.  Roll the balls between your palms until as perfectly round as possible. Chill again.

6.  Melt chocolate either in the microwave, or in a double boiler over simmering water (be careful not to burn the chocolate). Dip cake pop sticks in melted chocolate, then insert the sticks into chilled balls. If you are making your cake pops “stick up, ball down” – like in the photo at the top – you can insert the stick entirely through the ball. If you are making your pops “ball up, stick down” – like the ones in the picture below, or the ones you see at Starbucks – only insert the stick about 3/4 of the way into the ball. You may need to use your hands to gently reshape the balls a bit at this point. Chill again – the colder the cake balls are, the better they’ll hold up once dipped.

7.  Dip cake ball end in chocolate. It’s important to do this pretty gently, or the cake ball could fall off the stick. Gently shake excess chocolate off the ball, and set down to dry. This is where it’s a lot easier to make the “stick up” version, as its easier to let them dry with the ball down. With the “ball up” version, you’ll need to hold the cake pop horizontally over the bowl of chocolate and spin it so that the chocolate dries evenly and without drips (see photo at the bottom left below for evidence of dried drips).

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You can decorate the pops any way you like – chocolate drizzle, sprinkles, sanding sugar, candy flowers, etc. If you want to do the chocolate drizzle, let the first layer of chocolate dry and then pipe a drizzled layer on using a frosting bag. It can be cute to first dip the balls in white chocolate, and then drizzle with dark, or vice versa.

If you go the “ball up, stick down” route, you can make a display stand out of a styrofoam or floral foam cube. Just cover it with a cute fabric or wrapping paper and measure out holes for the sticks evenly. Molly’s wedding colors are aqua and orange so I incorporated those colors (I’m sure hers are more subdued versions) into both the cake pop decorations and the display stands.  Note:  I made about three dozen pops, and only 16 ended up being “ball up.”   It’s harder than it looks!  (Also I would recommend not starting a project like this later than 10 pm).

Just a couple adorable pics from my coffee date yesterday.  I mean honestly, who doesn’t love a cake pop?

Beach Weekend

One dreary weekend a little over a month ago, before I fell off the blogging wagon, I jetted off to the Oregon Coast for a spur of the moment getaway with two girlfriends. We had all had long weeks, the Seattle forecast looked pretty gross, and my family’s cabin in Seaside wasn’t being used – so it seemed like the perfect excuse to hop in the car and get out of town for a couple days. We pretty much ate and drank our way up and down Highway 101, and hardly changed out of our sweats the whole time – so pretty much the best kind of weekend there is.

Dinner at the Fort George Brewery in Astoria on our way into town on Friday night

Dinner at the Fort George Brewery in Astoria on our way into town on Friday night

Nothing cozier than a real-wood fire when it's stormy at the beach

Nothing cozier than a real-wood fire when it’s stormy at the beach

Coffee and breakfast treats each morning in Gearhart

Coffee and breakfast treats each morning in Gearhart

Clockwise from left: cinnamon roll - ham and cheese croissant - almond croissant

Clockwise from left: cinnamon roll – ham and cheese croissant – almond croissant

Marionberry scone - my very favorite bakery treat of all time

Marionberry scone – my very favorite bakery treat of all time

Gearhart is a couple miles north of our house in Seaside, and home to one of the best restaurants/bakeries I’ve ever been to. No matter how good I’ve been doing at eating healthy/low sugar/etc, I can never resist their marionberry scones. I had spinach smoothies for breakfast all week in order to prepare myself for this, and it was worth every bite. It’s been my goal to try to recreate them, although even if I had the recipe I’m sure they wouldn’t be as good. Regardless, I dug up the nerve to ask for the recipe this trip, but alas the owners weren’t there and the girl behind the counter wasn’t going to give it to me without their permission. So in the meantime, I think I found something close (recipe below).

Can't wait to wear these to some Husky games this fall!

Can’t wait to wear these to some Husky games this fall!

Our plans for a long beach run were derailed due to the rain, so after breakfast we decided to head into Cannon Beach and do a little shopping. But first we stopped at the Nike outlet in Seaside, where we all scored some new shoes, matching golf shirts for a tournament we plan to “play” in (or at least win “Best Dressed” in) this summer, and of course numerous other things we didn’t really need.

Gorgeous displays at Sesame and Lillies in Cannon Beach

Gorgeous displays at Sesame and Lillies in Cannon Beach

Once in Cannon Beach, we went to the brewery for lunch (more beer! more pub food!), and then wandered around my favorite home goods store, Sesame and Lillies, for what felt like hours. I really need a mansion right on the ocean so that I can furnish the entire thing from this store. After a couple hours of fantasizing about our future homes, we were ready for wine tasting, and then home.

Pinot Flight at Yummy Wine Bar

Pinot Flight at Yummy Wine Bar

Gorgeous cheese plate to go with our wine

Gorgeous cheese plate to go with our wine

The saddest part of a beach weekend is Sunday morning, when you have to pack up and go home. After a quick run to Gearhart for coffee and more scones, we took one last beach walk and then packed up the car. While it’s always hard to leave, I feel so lucky to have a cozy escape just a (relatively) short drive away, and dear friends that love it as much as I do.

A few more for the road

A few more for the road

Sunday morning beach walk

Sunday morning beach walk

Stop at Clark's on the 101 on our drive home on Sunday - the fresh banana milkshake on the left is mine

Stop at Clark’s on the 101 on our drive home on Sunday – the fresh banana milkshake on the left is mine

Marionberry Scones (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) frozen marionberries (or fresh if you can find them, although I tried it with both and like the way the frozen turned out better)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (I used demerara sugar for sprinkling)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt

First recipe I tried and it's almost perfect

First recipe I tried and it’s almost perfect

Grated butter - weird/awesome

Grated butter – weird/awesome

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees (I burned my first batch so turned the oven down to 400 for the second batch and had better results). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Freeze and then grate 8 tablespoons (one stick) of the butter on the large holes of a box grater. Keep frozen until needed. Place the berries in the freezer until needed. Whisk the milk and sour cream together in a medium bowl and refrigerate until needed.

3. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the frozen, grated butter and toss with your fingers until thoroughly coated. Fold in the chilled milk mixture with a rubber spatula until just coated (do not overmix).

4. Turn out the dough and any floury bits onto a well-floured counter. Lightly flour your hands and the dough and knead the dough gently 6 to 8 times until it just holds together in a ragged ball, adding additional flour as needed to prevent sticking.

5. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch square. Fold the top, bottom, and then sides of the dough over the center to form a 4-inch square. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured plate and chill in the freezer for five minutes (do not overchill).

6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and roll again into a 12-inch square. Sprinkle the berries evenly over the dough and press them lightly into the dough. Loosen the dough from the counter with a bench scraper (or a thin metal spatula), roll it into a tight log, and pinch the seam closed. Lay the dough seam side down and press into a 12 x 14-inch rectangle. using a floured chef’s knife, slice the dough crosswise into four equal rectangles, then slice each rectangle on the diagonal into two triangles. (In an effort to replicate the Pacific Way version, I skipped this step and simply rolled out the dough after step 5, used a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds, and then pressed frozen berries into the individual biscuits).

7. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Melt the remaining two tablespoons butter, then brush the butter over the scones (you could also use cream, or an egg wash) and sprinkle with sugar (regular or demerara). Bake until the scone tops are lightly golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least ten minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To Make Ahead: the cut, unbaked scones can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours; bake as directed. They can also be frozen for up to one month; cover and freeze the scones until frozen solid, about 6 hours, and then transfer to a large zip-lock bag. Bake the frozen scones (do not thaw), reducing the oven temperature to 375 degrees and increasing the baking time to 25-30 minutes.

Just for fun, a pic from three weeks later - 80 degrees in early May!

Just for fun, a pic from three weeks later – 80 degrees in early May!

Friday Faves

I don’t know about you, but this girl is definitely ready for the weekend. I’m heading to the beach for what Bridget Jones would call a “mini-break,” and I cannot wait to get on the road. What is it they say about the sea air restoring your soul? I can’t really remember, but I’m excited to curl up with a blanket and a bottle of wine and relax after a crazy busy week. That’s still a few hours away though, so in the meantime – a few highlights from the past seven days:

View from Section 331

View from Section 331

Every year my friend Katie’s parents buy a huge block of tickets for the Mariners’ home opener. It’s become such a fun tradition, even though Safeco can be kind of a zoo on Opening Day. This year was actually warmer than past years, there was amazing people watching in the beer garden, I ran into so many friends, and the M’s even got a win! (Let’s not talk about anything that’s happened since then).

Peonies at the market – makes it seem like spring even when it’s gray and rainy!

It’s pretty much impossible to get out of my grandparents’ house without my grandma trying to “gift” you something – whether it be food, an old cardigan, or a family heirloom. Lately she’s been trying to give away some of her really nice things, such as this china teacup. She insisted that I take it home this past weekend, asking only that I try to find it “online” (not sure she really understands the concept) to find out what it’s worth. So that’s on my to-do list, but in the meantime I’m just appreciating it for its intricate design and delicate beauty (hand-painted gold!). I have an extensive teacup collection thanks to my godmother, so now all I need is a huge dining room with a china hutch. Maybe someday…..

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I’m obsessed with my new cucumber candle from West Elm (on clearance!).

I’ve been loving my new ballet flats from Sperry – I love their boat shoes but these just seem to work better with my wardrobe. I’m obsessed with this pair but not sure if I would wear them enough to rationalize the purchase (my sister bought them and returned them for the same reason). Although, now that I look them up online I see that they’re actually Milly for Sperry, which means I probably should go back and buy them immediately. Who doesn’t need a pair of hot pink boat shoes for spring? Now I just need more friends with boats!

A couple other pairs of fun spring shoes I love:

Colorful flats: here and here

Kate Spade pumps: here and here

I always need cute new running shoes: Nike Frees in pastel stripes

And just to torture ourselves: Manolo Sandals

Happy Friday!! I hope everyone has fabulous plans for the weekend, and that 5 o’clock (or 2 o’clock, in my case) comes quickly! XOXO

Friday Faves

TGIFF – thank goodness it’s finally Friday! I hope everyone’s April is off to a lovely start. This week started out gorgeous and sunny in Seattle, but the last few days have been pretty grey and blah. In spite of that, I did my best to come up with a few highlights – and I can’t complain too much about the weather, because I’m heading to Hawaii in two weeks! The forecast for Kailua is low 80s and sunny, which makes the current Seattle rain just a teensy bit more bearable. As will the spray tan I’m going to get at lunch today!

I had a really sad day on Monday, for reasons I won’t go into. After work I dragged myself to a spin class, even though I would have much preferred happy hour. During the instructor’s inspirational rant towards the end of class, she yelled out “take whatever it is that ruined your day today and work it out this way, rather than at the bar.” I was feeling so proud of myself for doing just that…until after class when I promptly ordered a drink at dinner. This “cucumber mint agave” cocktail was so delicious though, I didn’t even feel guilty. It’s my new drink for summer: vodka muddled with cucumber and mint and then mixed with lime juice and a little agave nectar. Paired with a good workout and great friends, it was the perfect cure for a bad day.

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My friend Katie and I went on an online shopping spree last summer, when a slow work day happened to coincide with the Kate Spade sale – a dangerous combination. When this bag first arrived in the mail, I was afraid it was a little too bright and didn’t really use it at all. However, I recently rediscovered it in the back of my closet and for some reason this year I feel like the color is perfect – and I’ve gotten so many compliments on it that I know it’s not just me. If you’re in the market for a fun spring handbag, here are a few that I love:

  • Tory Burch Robinson Spectator Double Zip Tote – I love anything from the Robinson line, but I especially love this in the white, and with the laser-cut detailing (here)
  • Kate Spade Grove Court Maise in Maraschino – love the pink and orange combo, and the polka dot lining (here)
  • Rebecca Minkoff “M.A.B” Leather Tote in Sea Green – perfect for a fun summer work bag (here)

I’ve turned 29 my past few birthdays, so all of the sudden I find myself buying more skincare products than I used to. I know this is an issue for most of my friends as well, so whenever I find an amazing new product I have to share. I’m still waiting for my friend Yoona to do another skincare post, but in the meantime, this is my new moisturizer obsession. It’s light and non-greasy, which are my two main criteria for a moisturizer, but it’s also super hydrating, anti-aging, smoothing, calming, etc. Basically a lot of things that my skin needs. And it smells good. If anyone else has a product they want to share, I would love to hear about it in the comments!

One of my favorite parts about having my blog is that people will discuss things with me that they wouldn’t necessarily have discussed before. A friend at work the other day gave me a list of his favorite cookbooks, so of course I immediately went back to my desk and ordered them all. He gave me three suggestions – one is backordered, but the other two arrived this week (in a HEAVY box, they’re both HUGE)and I’m having so much fun starting to go through them. If anyone has any favorite recipes from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking or Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table , I would love to hear them! I have a feeling they’re both going to force me to up my game!

My grandma is famous for a lot of her recipes, but one of the top five family favorites is her lemon poppyseed cake (which – shhhh!!! – is just a slightly doctored up cake mix). I made it on my own for the first time this past weekend, and it was a big hit at my cousin’s baby shower. Even Grandma gave it the thumbs up, although she was quick to add that hers is “lighter.” Also you’ll notice the crack at the bottom of mine from when I flipped it – heartbreaking.

Grandma’s Lemon Poppyseed Cake:

2 boxes lemon cake mix (“lemon supreme” if you can find it, I used plain lemon because I couldn’t)
2 small boxes instant lemon pudding (if you can find it, I used vanilla because I couldn’t find lemon)
Lemon juice (fresh squeezed, or from concentrate, as you’ll need 1-2 cups)
Eggs
Oil
1 large jar poppyseeds
1 cup powdered sugar (approx.), for glaze
4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (or juice of one lemon, approx.), for glaze

Prepare cake mix according to package directions, only substitute lemon juice for the water. You can do just one cake mix (and one box of pudding, and one small or half one large jar poppyseeds), but for a tall cake you should use two and double the recipe.

Spray a bundt cake pan with “pam for baking” (or butter and flour the pan) and cook according to package directions (if you use two boxes of cake mix it will take anywhere from 15-30 minutes longer to bake).

To make the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons lemon juice together until smooth (mine turned out a little too thin, which is why you can barely tell it’s even on there – too much lemon juice!).

Allow cake to cool for 20-30 minutes, then invert pan onto platter and drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. Serve with fresh berries.

cake

I hope everyone has fun weekend plans, sunshine or not! I’ll be rooting for Wichita State tomorrow (I can’t believe I just said that!). xoxo