Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Do-It-Yourself-ish Wedding Cake

I'm kind of loving this tiered multi-colored wedding cake from Martha Stewart Weddings, and it's a Do-It-Yourself-ish project too.  If you make a cake and cover it in thick buttercream, you can then stick the candies into the frosting to make any design or pattern you'd like, although I'm sure it would be pretty time-consuming.  I wonder how a navy blue/pink tower would look...

Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings

Monday, January 30, 2012

Easy Listening

When my brother and I were young, we would spend our school vacations, along with the entirety of the summer months, with my grandparents.  We'd mostly stay at their home, baking or woodworking or learning how to play instruments (our activities were as varied as if we were at a summer camp) and when my grandmother needed to go to the store or to the bank, we'd get into their silver Oldsmobile for the ride.  If it was a nice day, we'd wait in the car while she ran in to do errands, my grandfather always turning on the radio to an AM talk radio station just for some background sound (he never let us change the station; only once when I was in middle school did he let me move the dial to a Top 40 station, but made me change it back when we got home).

The last few years, I've been turning the dial to NPR on my way home every night.  Instead of listening to the same five pop songs that seem to be on repeat, I listen to Michele Norris and company tell stories about the world.  The voices are warm and encompassing in a way I can't exactly pinpoint.  It reminds me of those days when we'd sit together waiting for my grandmother and listen to the newscasters' voices hum throughout the car.

A few nights ago, I caught the Backseat Bookclub, an NPR book series for kids.  Christopher Paul Curtis was on air taking questions from young readers who had just finished his "The Watsons Go To Birmingham," a book he wrote years ago and which won the Newbury Medal.  It made me wish that this was around when I was young, a shy kid reading by myself in my bedroom.  And I've decided to take on next month's challenge to read "One Hundred Dresses" by Eleanor Estes, who was also from my hometown.  Sometimes, there's nothing like being transported back to childhood even if it's just for a few minutes. 

Image from My Diet Consists of Glitter via weheartit

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A French Breakfast that Transports

After seeing these French Breakfast Muffins on Pinterest for the last few months, I decided to make a quick batch last night.  There's nothing particularly standout in the ingredient list, and the recipe only made eight muffins, but I will definitely be making them again.  They taste great and the texture is really interesting, with an incredibly soft inside and a really golden, sugary crust.  And the best part is that once baked, you are supposed to dip the warm muffins first in melted butter and then in a sugar and cinnamon mixture.  How can you go wrong with a butter and sugar-covered treat?

I originally thought that the muffins were called 'french' because of the melted butter but now I think it's because when you eat them, the only place you want to be is in a cafe in Paris with coffee and a newspaper (preferably in English).  That's exactly what I'll be thinking of when I eat one for breakfast tomorrow while sitting at my desk at work. xo

Recipe via Velvet Lava Cafe

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Picnic Perfect

I was sad on our last night in Washington.  It had been a short trip and I felt like we had barely any time to enjoy the city or relax on the soft (so soft!) comfy king size bed in our hotel room.  We wanted to head home pretty early the next morning so after a long day at the National Archives and the National Building Museum (and some scalding hot cocoa outside the rink at the Sculpture Garden), we jumped on the metro and back to our hotel, picking up dinner on the way.

And that's how we spent our last night, spread out on top of the bedspread having a makeshift picnic consisting of wonton soup (don't even ask how we ate it without bowls) and lo mein, and a trio of empanadas with plantain chips.  Even with reruns of Friends in the background, it was one of the most romantic meals we've ever had. So casual, so low-key, so completely us.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Best Kind of Snow Day

Yesterday was the best kind of snow day; it was a Saturday and we had no place important to be.  We stayed inside watching televison and doing chores while the wind whipped around outside our windows.  And of course, I made delicious chocolate chip toffee shortbread.  It's almost like it's mandatory to bake cookies on cold, winter days.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Survival: Cupcake Edition

Right before the Jeep's brakes stopped working but right after we had a fabulous lunch at Cafe Bonaparte, Anthony and I bought a bunch of cupcakes from both Georgetown Cupcakes and Sprinkles (finally!), which are conveniently located just a few blocks away from one another on M Street in Georgetown.  For me, there was a clear winner, although for Anthony, the decision wasn't so clear-cut.

We went to Sprinkles first, though I have to admit that I couldn't stop myself from making a pitstop in the Paper Source next door.  It was difficult to choose only three flavors, but we went with S'mores (Blake Lively-inspired/created), coconut and lemon.  I thought the cake was fluffy albeit bland, but the frostings were awesome (this is coming from someone who hates frosting).  A big plus was that everything about the place was cheerful, from the employees to the adorable stickers on the brown kraft box.

Georgetown Cupcakes was super crowded and there was no way of knowing where the line started or who had already ordered.  The staff wasn't so cheerful, perhaps due to the amount of people in the small bakery, and I didn't think that the variety was as good as Sprinkles.  We chose a Vanilla Birthday Cake, Chocolate Salted Caramel and Key Lime (there were tons of chocolate choices).  These cupcakes were kind of average for me, although it might be because they were almost completely unrecognizable in the box due to major shifting during car troubles.  I didn't take a picture of them because I was so bummed at how wrecked they were, but now I wish that I had so you can see the poor little things.  For example, I didn't taste the salt in the Chocolate Salted Caramel frosting but perhaps that's because it was smeared against the top of the box.

I know people are hating on cupcakes, but I'm still a fan.  It's so easy to share them or save them for later (Anthony and I cut each one into quarters for extended enjoyment).  Our trips to these two shops made our mini-vacation even sweeter.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Naturally Berry

Every time I'm in Sephora, I look at these Fresh Sugar lip stains longingly.  I've restrained from buying one for myself and I was rewarded this Christmas when I received one in a Fresh gift pack which also included a soy face wash and a mascara.  Now, my lips are moisturized and beautifully berry-stained throughout some of the coldest days of the year. So worth the wait, and I so want another one in a different color.   

Monday, January 16, 2012

Back from the Road

We got home from our short jaunt to Washington DC last night, and while I'm home today cleaning and doing things I should have done this weekend, Anthony is at work and I'm wishing we were able to spend one last day together.  Our weekend away was fun, but not without hiccups, just like most of our adventures. 

We left on Thursday morning at 5am-ish in the pouring rain, and once we reached the city, the brakes on Anthony's jeep stopped working.  What followed was a terrifying 5 minutes, a tow ride to a repair shop off the map, and then a long cab ride to our hotel with all of our bags to finally check in.  We made the best of the situation (luckily, we didn't need a car to get around), but we were still a bit bummed.  The hotel upgraded our room though, which was a welcome, unexpected and needed treat.

This week, I'll be posting highlights from our trip.  Also, this was the first time I used my iPhone to take candid, off-the-cuff pictures and it was cool and distracting at the same time.  We had a great time, but I'm happy to be home in our freezing apartment with a repaired automobile.

Anthony and I at the ice rink at the Sculpture Garden,
freezing on a cement bench in 32 degree weather

Monday, January 9, 2012

Plugging In

This weekend, I officially jumped on the iPhone bandwagon and turned in my 5-year old flip phone with the broken screen.  I also opened my own Pinterest account so that I can stop lurking on the boards without being able to pin my own images.  I'm excited to now be able to tweet and blog from wherever I am, but I'm feeling a bit cautious too.  I don't like being attached to my phone, and I hate the idea of being 'too plugged in.' 

But for now, I'm embracing this technology upgrade and learning to adapt to my new phone, truly a lifeline to the real world.  It's a far cry from the mustard yellow rotary phone that my grandparents used to have until just a few years ago, but it'll work.  xo

Image via Forever Young

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Yes, I watched the first episode of the new season of The Bachelor.  No, I won't apologize for it even though I probably should, and yes, it was bad.  It was so bad that I laughed through most of it; where did the producers find these girls? Why would anyone volunteer to be filmed for this horrible show? And why am I still watching?

I love this compilation of all of the ladies introducing themselves that New York put together.  My personal faves are the girl who literally rode in on a horse and the blogger who sobbed in the bathroom for hours. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

In Preparation...

I've been on holiday break from work for the past week so tonight, when I started to put my stuff together for tomorrow, it kind of felt like the first day of school.  My calendar is new, my bag is new and I even have my lunch all packed in the refrigerator.  I feel like I need another few weeks off but if I can get through just a few more days, I will be rewarded with a lovely weekend trip to Washington DC with Anthony. 

Sometimes I wish my office looked like this.  How fun would work be!

Photo via weheartit

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

Last night, we brought in the new year with a yummy dinner and later, champagne, which exploded when Anthony opened it right before midnight.  As we mopped up the alcohol pooling on our living room floor, we laughed, pausing for a kiss as the crowds in Times Square went crazy on the television.  I wouldn't have wanted to bring in 2012 any other way.

Photo courtesy of weheartit