Friday, July 26, 2013

Happy Weekend

Hi my dears. How have you been? I’ve been busy. The recent heat wave kicked things into high gear at work, which is good because a mild summer doesn’t bode well for the air conditioning business.  On a personal level, I’m glad it’s been so breezy and beautiful.  High temps and extreme humidity are not my friends.

Do you have any fun plans this weekend? I’m heading south for a weekend with a friend and I’m looking forward to catching up with her.

 I know my blogging has been extra spotty lately and for that I apologize, but today I’m back with another links post. It’s been awhile since I’ve done one so there are extra links for your viewing pleasure.


+ cream. Speaking of, here's an interesting profile on the owner of the Van Leeuwen ice cream trucks in NYC. (via Garance DorĂ©)

+ Homemade poptarts. Can't go wrong here.

+ A super fun gold sequin heart tutorial. You know, for all your giant wall bling needs.

+ A recent study on the full moon's effect on sleep. Call me crazy, but I fully believe the full moon plays a role. I am always more anxious around a full moon. (via NPR)

+ Another cool DIY: turn a giant t-shirt into a cute tshirt dress.

+ Loved this article in National Geographic on the tradition of painting elephants in India.

+ I'm not a belt person but if I was, I would totally wear this one.

+ I can't get enough of these Pantone stairs. I would love love to do this in my future house.

+ Did you know that Anthropologie has a blog? Check out their post on a short history of the monogram.

+ "Miracles" by Jeremy Messersmith
Miracles by Jeremy Messersmith on Grooveshark

Have a good one, friends!
Ice cream photos: (1) / (2)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Best Ever Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nothing is better than a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. 
Ok some things are equally as good, but nothing is better.

No two chocolate cookie recipes are the same, though.  There are a thousand different ways to satisfy your cookie craving. Do you like flat and slightly crispy cookies? There's a recipe for that. Do you prefer artisanal takes on the standard chocolate chipper, with sea salt and caramel chips? You can bet there's a way to make them.  Are you a vegan or gluten-free? Recipes galore!

Previously I had two go-to recipes. One is the thick and buttery version my grandmother created.  The second is my mother's modern adaptation of the first recipe, with whole wheat flour and oats.
Both recipes produce equally delicious and satisfying cookies.

But now I have a third recipe, found here. It's one that makes incredibly soft and chewy cookies and provides a perfect base for experimentation. The beauty of this particular recipe is that these cookies still taste as soft and fresh three days after baking as when they first came out of the oven. Plus, you don't need a mixer to make them, which is a huge bonus.

I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of reducing the cookie size. I don't know what it is, but I prefer smaller cookies. These were about the size of the palm of my hand. Plus, I was able to make three dozen out of what was supposed to be 16 cookies.

Mmm...just look at that dough...

There are a few secrets to making the perfect cookie:
1. For the best flavor, refrigerate the dough. I know it's an exercise in patience but refrigeration is what gives the ingredients the time to mix and mingle like they should.
2. The softness and chewiness are a result of two things: the addition of cornstarch and underbaking it. Seriously. Whisk those puppies right out of the oven the minute they look golden. Not golden brown, but golden.
3. Chocolate chip quality matters. Call me a snob but chalky, dry chips really take away from the overall quality.  If you're going to be ingesting the unnecessary calories, why not make them the most delicious calories? Personally I prefer Guittard brand (found at H-E-B stores), but sadly they are not sold in Indiana.  Fortunately, I have a sister in Texas who brings me a stash when she comes to visit.

The only thing left to do? Why, enjoy them with a glass of milk of course!

If you try them let me know. I would highly recommend it.
Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? Any additions I should try?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dream Summer Vacations

Each week I get a list of blog prompts in my inbox from the fabulous Mama Kat. The following post is inspired by one of her prompts.

Since joining the working world, I have discovered the saddest part of the Monday through Friday, 8-5 grind.

There is no summer break.

For the second year in a row (I know, poor you, says every working stiff who's been in the game for 15+ years), I am watching this beautiful season literally roll right on by me on a candy-striped bike eating an ice cream cone. It is incredibly depressing.

Part of my gloom stems from the fact that despite putting my time in, I'm still too low on the totem pole to rate more than a few days of vacation.  These precious gems are incredibly rare and must be meted out over the course of an entire year. Even more unfortunate in the case of my particular job, it is entirely possible that they can be eaten up as sick days.

Seriously, someone make me the CEO of something already because I'm SICK. OF. IT.

Anyway, as I wither away under the pale glow of florescent lighting, I'm planning fabulous imaginary vacations that I would take if I had the summer to myself. Since they are imaginary, all of the below vacations can be paid for in smiles and baked goods. Obviously.


+ Thailand

I've never been to an Asian country and I think I'd like to dip my toe in the water with a trip to Thailand. I already love the food so I'm fairly certain I'd love the country. A two-week tour of Bangkok and the surrounding countryside? I'm totally down.

+ Iceland

This country has been on my list for over a year now after seeing photos on The House That Lars Built.  I would love to rent a car and just drive around, taking pictures of all the gorgeous countryside, exploring waterfalls and lagoons as well as spending some time in Reykjavik. It looks like such a lush and vibrant country.

+ Musha Cay in the Bahamas

I have never been on a cruise or to any tropical location. I've relaxed by rivers, mountains, lakes, and the seaside but never anywhere below northern Florida. This particular group of islands is privately owned by the famous magician David Copperfield. You essentially have to rent all of Musha Cay to vacation there; it's incredibly exclusive. But man how awesome would it be to chill on the beach by these crystal clear waters with your family or friends and not have to worry about anyone else ruining your vacation? As someone who loves the ocean and not strangers, this is pretty much ideal.

Obviously there are about twenty other places around the world that I'd love to visit on a summer trip but before I cry myself to sleep with travel envy, I think that's enough for now.

What about you, if you had unlimited money and time where would you go this summer?
Mama’s Losin’ It

Image Sources: (airplane) / (wanderlust) / (Thailand) / (Iceland) / (Musha Cay)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Always, Sometimes, Never

I always
+ put my right shoe on first
+ take pictures of interesting doors or windows

+ need to know what time it is

I sometimes
+ yawn when I’m nervous
+ want to cut bangs, regardless of how silly and not like Zooey Deschanel I'll look
+ drive too fast

I never
+ dance in public
+ know which light switch is which (say that 5 times fast!)

+ can put down a good book

I always
+ sleep with too many pillows
+ say yes to chocolate
+ choose waffles over pancakes

I sometimes
+ spend too much money on artisan cheese
+ dream in French (not as much anymore, sadly)
+ take all my blessings for granted

I never
+ feel completely at ease in a large crowd
+ forget a face
+ get up early by choice

Image Sources: (window) / (door) / (Zooey D) / (yawning kitty) / (bookshelves) / (pillows) / (French woman) / (cheese plate) / (busy market)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lessons from Text Messages

In the digital age, communication is easier than ever. Well, sometimes.


Lesson 1: Speech to text isn't perfect.
Lesson 2: Don't leave Jillian in an office full of chatty attorneys. Especially if the air conditioning is broken.

Lesson 1: Someone needs to talk to the Kardashians about Jesus in real life. And no, Kanye is not an appropriate substitute, even though he thinks he is.
Lesson 2: Julie has the best dreams.

Lesson 1: It's really hard to politely explain a not very polite expression in a text message. Haha.
Lesson 2: Well obviously, never assume.

You're welcome for sharing all this wisdom.
Well readers, what have you learned from technology lately?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Have a Good 4th of July

Independence Day, one of my favorite holidays. Everything about it is so quintessentially a celebration of summer. Well, except for the Revolutionary War part.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of a perfect flag cake. I’m sure that’s what old T. Jeffs was talking about in the Declaration of Independence, right?

I think I found it, you guys. I found it on the Smitten Kitchen blog: a vanilla pound cake, cream cheese frosting, and a patriotic array of blueberries and raspberries. I really don’t know what else you need. 
4/5 family members agree. (The 5th not being in favor of fruit on his cake, the little rapscallion.) 
I attempted to level the cake to make a more even surface for decorating. It was hard to do with the cake still in the dish. I wouldn't recommend it.

Not that smooth & full of crumbs, but who cares? It's about to be covered in fruit!

Use powdered sugar to make the "white stripes". Pro tip: when the directions say to dry the berries, seriously DRY THE BERRIES. Because if you don’t, the white stripes will look really sad. Check out the picture from Smitten Kitchen’s blog for what it’s supposed to look like.
But fear not, it will taste just as delicious. Which is what really matters. Even if it means I won’t be opening a cake shop unless I find someone way better at decorating than me.


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