Friday Faves, New Year’s Edition

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My Christmas cards ran into a few obstacles this year, but I love these backup “happy new year” cards from Minted.

Happy first Friday of 2014!  I kind of fell off the blogging wagon (again) towards the end of the year (I’m blaming it on the holidays), but being better about blogging is one of my (many) resolutions for the new year.  I have lots of healthy recipes on my “to make” list for the month, and Santa brought me a new MacBook Air (!!!!!), so hopefully this is a resolution I’ll actually keep.  Others include:

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Eating More Fruits and Veggies – easy to do when it’s satsuma season!

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Reading MoreMindy’s book is a re-read, but so much funnier than I remembered. And so nice to read an actual book rather than a screen for a change (don’t worry, I have some more substantial reading on my list as well).

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Trying New Places – in this case, delicious cocktails at the hip new(ish) Capitol Hill bar Witness.

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OK, this isn’t a resolution, I just really love the new SmartWool socks my mom put in my stocking for Christmas (yes, I still have a stocking!).  I’m generally not a sock person (I could wear flip flops almost year-round), but these keep my feet so warm and toasty, it’s impossible not to become addicted.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and that the new year is off to a great start.  I’m looking forward to de-cluttering my apartment, hitting the gym with renewed vigor (despite the January crowds), and taking advantage of all the new beginnings this year has in store for me (I could definitely use a few).  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014 for all of us!  If you have any book recommendations, recipe recommendations, or resolutions to share, I would love to hear them in the comments!

Friday Faves

Hello, Friday!! I had a whirlwind of a week, and am heading into what promises to be a whirlwind of a weekend….can all of you West Coasters believe this weather we’ve been having? It’s almost too good to be true – and makes being at work such a challenge. June is the month I really wish I had looked more into teaching. Some highlights from the past seven days, despite being chained to my desk for the majority of that time:

I’ve been really into my summer brights and neons lately. This J.Crew clutch was a bday gift from my brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law last year, mani is JulepAvery.” Some other summer clutches I love:

  • Invitation clutch in cork from J. Crew – so beachy and fun
  • Milly for Banana Republic – I actually love this whole Milly line – although I don’t love that my 40% off coupons don’t work for her stuff.
  • Grayson by Linea Pelle – I adore the bright orange, and the studs.

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Remember my goal of accessorizing more? It’s a lot easier now that the J. Crew Factory store is online. (I know it has been for awhile now, but in case anyone is way behind). Similar necklace here, tons more fun jewelry here.

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I discovered this moisturizer/sunscreen/foundation in my mom’s bathroom, of all places. I usually need a heavier foundation due to my melasma, but somehow this product provides plenty of coverage while staying light and non-greasy….plus everyone tells me I look tan. When I went to buy my own, the woman at the Chanel counter seemed confused, and told me its typically for older women, due to the “firming” and “smoothing” features – but hello, who can’t use a little help even at 29? (wink).  And it’s a built-in sunscreen – win win! The coordinating eye cream is also worth the investment.  Chanel counter = dangerous.

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My new cocktail for the summer: Skinny Girl Cucumber Vodka, soda, lime juice, muddled cucumber and mint. Garnish with cucumber slices, mint leaves, lime wedges, and/or fun pink striped straws.  Delicious, refreshing, and low cal!

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I had a few girlfriends over on Tuesday night to say goodbye to my friend Wendy, who is moving to San Diego at the end of the month (sob!). She picked the worst time of year to leave Seattle – it’s been gorgeous every day this week, and we were able to sit out on the deck until 10 pm. I was so excited to be able to serve bubbles from my new West Elm gold-rimmed champagne flutes, and on a fun gold-rimmed pink tray I picked up in Kona (please note the coordinating napkins).

TGIF, friends!! I hope everyone’s weekend includes lots of sunshine, sunscreen, cocktails and neon! 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.

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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