Wednesday, December 29, 2010


hope you're all having happy wednesdays, friends. my week has been quiet so far, and i'm looking forward to coming home from work tonight, curling up on my couch, and reading the night away before (hopefully) crawling into bed early.

how are things going for you?


photo via here. i kind of want a pair of moccasins now.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

family ties.

first of all, i should say that it's only appropriate that i write this post on my mom's birthday. happy, happy, happy birthday, mom!

when i was visiting my parents over the holiday break (is it sad that i consider a three-day weekend a break now? must take more vacation in 2011), i spent a lot of time at my grandmother's house, where most of my visiting family was staying.

grandma (my mom's mom) lives two blocks away from my parents, and i've visited her in that exact location for 27 years -- in other words, my entire life. she's is 95 now, and her mind is much softer than it used to be, but she's in perfect physical health and i caught her dancing merrily at the the kitchen sink the other day while she rinsed out a glass. she stays up late, she loves strong iced tea, and she has a moral constitution that i swear is made of steel. i admire her so much.

that's why i was thrilled to discover her college yearbook during this last visit. grandma went to marywood university in scranton, pennsylvania, and graduated in 1936 -- a time when many women didn't attend college in the first place, and something i admire and am so proud of.  flipping through the pages of the yearbook was fantastic, and i'm going to see if it's something i might be able to hold on to when grandma is ready to give it up. that's her page in the book, above, and her photograph -- wasn't she beautiful? (you can click to enlarge, if you'd like.)

the best part of her particular entry in this book, though, is the paragraph that accompanies it. i literally laughed out loud when i read it, and i thought i'd document it here, too -- both for posterity and for the fact that you guys might also get a kick out of it.

"another charming member of our utopian society is mary o'hara. mary appeared to be a very sophisticated type with straight black hair and braids, but underneath she was a very friendly sort of person. much may be told about mary. she was interested in art and had many very good drawings to her credit, several of which may be seen throughout this book. she is not particularly athletic, but enjoyed skating, tobogganing, sleigh-riding, and an occasional dip in a swimming pool. she can boast that she has been on the back of a horse for more than half an hour. (for proof ask her to show you the picture.) she enjoyed open cars, going without a hat, was a willing pupil of contract, and had quite a capacity for ice cream. mary's cheerful laugh was often heard ringing down the corridors of the administration building, for she found something to laugh at in almost every situation. her clothes were always attractive and neat, and her raven black braids formed a real old-fashioned setting for her cameo-like face. mary worked unceasingly for the literary productions of utopia and contributed many attractive sketches to both the tourmaline and the bay leaf. and whenever we heard the expression "isn't that tender!"  we could be sure mary was around. we hope her post-utopian days will be as successful and happy as her college days were."

it's hard to pin down a favorite sentence, but i think "she had quite a capacity for ice cream" might be it.

now i know where it comes from.

Monday, December 27, 2010

the (holiday!) weekend + committing to...

 happy monday, friends -- if you celebrate, did you have a good christmas? i hope so. and if you don't celebrate, i hope you had a lovely weekend.

i definitely did: i baked a lot, ate a lot, read a lot (specifically, this book -- devoured in a day), and spent tons of time with my family, which was exactly what i wanted. gifts were a very secondary thing for me this year, and it felt really good to be free from that pressure (although i'd be remiss if i didn't mention the really lovely things i received. thank you, friends and family).

i'm kind of kicking myself that i didn't take some extra days off work this week -- not for any real reason, but i just feel like i'd like even more time: more time with my extended family, more time to reflect back on what has been a bit of a tumultuous year, and more time to reflect forward on what i'd like 2011 to be.

so with that said, as i think about these things (all of which i'll share with you in a big "committing to..." post next week), here are my little commitments for this last week of 2010. the theme seems to be quiet, huh?

+ keep doing this.
+ detox from christmas, aka cookiefest of the century. do a little yoga, a little pilates.
+ lay low for the first part of this week. i think thursday, friday, and saturday are going to be pretty celebratory, so quiet time today, tomorrow and wednesday seems necessary.

what are your goals for the week?

p.s. i highly recommend that you read this beautiful post by dominique browning, who writes a gorgeous blog and also just happened to be the reviewer of the book i linked to above. i have always loved butterflies, and her thoughts on them -- and their relation to us as human beings -- are so lovely and touching, especially as we say goodbye to this year.

image by kate pulley

Thursday, December 23, 2010

eat, bake, love.

hi, friends! happy thursday, and happy christmas eve eve. how have your past few days been?

today is my last day at work until next monday; after i finish up, i’ll be heading home to my parents’ for the long weekend. i can’t even begin to tell you how excited i am about that; i’ve been feeling a little not-myself for the past month or so, so i’m excited to spend a lot of time in pajamas by the christmas tree with a bunch of my extended family. just what the doctor ordered.

something else the doctor ordered (although probably not the dentist) was an evening spent baking. i was feeling a little beaten down by the workweek and by the holiday in general – to the point where i almost skipped the baking last night and just settled down on the couch. but i’m glad i didn’t, because the nutella cookies – the recipe for which i found in katie’s fantastic christmas magazine – are delicious. delicious to the point where i ate too much of the dough and my teeth hurt today. ha! if you like nutella like i do, try these out. recipe below.

i’ll probably be posting tomorrow, so see you back here then – i hope your thursdays are merry and bright!


nutella cookies
adapted slightly from here

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut spread
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 tbsp almond milk (or soy, or cow’s)
1 cup milk chocolate chips (optional, but recommended)

in a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. set aside.

in another bowl, cream together butter, nutella, and sugars. beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. add the flour mixture to the batter in three parts, alternating with the milk. do not overbeat.

wrap the dough, which will be sticky, in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

after an hour, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. let cookies cool for a few minutes before removing them from the tray and placing on a parchment-lined wire rack. repeat until all of the cookie dough has been used.

image by katie. they're not the nutella cookies, but they're equally chocolatey and delightful, right?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

the weekend + committing to...

last night, my best friend k., her boyfriend, her family and i headed over to the always-beautiful selby gardens for its annual "lights in bloom" holiday event. even though i've lived in sarasota for four years now, sunday was my first time at "lights in bloom," and it was beautiful -- we spent the majority of our time at the gardens walking through its outdoor paths, sipping hot chocolate, and ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the pretty, twinkly christmas lights. all the shots i tried to take outdoors turned out crappily (must get better at taking pictures at night), but i did manage to snap some photographs of selby's renowned orchids, which were just lovely.

"lights in bloom" was one highlight in what was overall a really pleasant, definitively holiday-ish weekend. on friday night, i finished up my christmas shopping, went to see a movie and then came home and relaxed. on saturday, i whipped up a batch of nichole's chocolate crinkle cookies, which i think should be renamed "brownie bites from heaven" -- they were delicious. and on saturday night, i took my cookies to an ugly sweater party, drank good wine (the hosts are wine distributors), chatted with new friends, and generally had a great time.

a good weekend, indeed.

and now this is a short week for me -- i have friday off, and i'm heading up to my parents' house on thursday night -- and i have to say, the timing couldn't be better. i'm excited to have a few days off, excited for the holiday, excited most of all to see a lot of my extended family.

so with that, here are my commitments for the week:

+ stay positive. chin up and all that good stuff.
+ keep focusing on remaining free from the rampant materialism that's going on right now
+ bake the nutella cookies i discovered in katie's amazing christmas magazine.
+ give my house a good scrubdown early in the week so i don't have to worry about it when i'm trying to fly out the door on thursday night.
+ spend some quality time with my favorite sarasota people.
+ continuing thinking about what i want 2011 to be.

and you, friends? tell me, and i'll see you back here tomorrow! xoxo

photos by me

Friday, December 17, 2010

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, friends! can you believe there are only two more fridays left this year? i can't -- craziness! i managed to get most of my christmas shopping for my immediate family done this week, and while i'm still looking for one last perfect gift for my brother and mom, respectively, i feel good about things. plus, i love looking at the wrapped presents near my tiny christmas tree -- they're so pretty.

what are your plans for the weekend? i'm planning on a movie, a long walk, an ugly-sweater holiday party (although i don't own an ugly holiday, and a day of baking, but other than that, my plans are wide open. i'll be heading to my parents' next weekend, and family is coming in from all over for the holiday, so i'm excited to enjoy being in sarasota and taking advantage of the mini warm-weather snap we'll be having today and tomorrow.

tell me what you're up to, and i'll see you back here on monday. xoxo

photo by olivia

Thursday, December 16, 2010


is it just me, or does this week seem to be whizzing by? at this rate, i can't even imagine how next week  is going to go. i think having my aunt linn in town, coupled with the already-frantic pace of the holiday season, is adding to that time-flying feeling, but seriously: wow. i love this time of year -- it's my favorite, actually -- but sometimes it feels a little like gasping for air.

but then i stumble across photographs like these, by anna aden, and they feel like the breath you take when you first walk outside on one of those silent, wintry mornings: crackling-cold and crisp and head-and-soul-clearing. lovely, lovely, lovely.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

a little happy.

making me happy right now:

+ this cupcake, because it's from my favorite cupcakery in sarasota, cupcakes a-go-go. (side note: i still think there aren't enough cupcakeries in town. if i had enough disposable cash laying around, i'd totally open one up.)

+ christmas. i can't wait to see my family.

+ the great christmas cookie bake, which will be happening at casa megan on sunday.

+ writing my holiday cards tonight or tomorrow night.

+ the thought of 2011 and all the adventures and memories i plan on creating for myself. expect a looking forward/looking back post soon.

+ sitting on my couch typing this blog post, with oscar at my feet and a blanket wrapped around me. it may be cold outside, but we are toasty and warm in our house.

what's been making you happy lately? xoxo

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

shoogie boogies.

i like to think that i'm a pretty good sarasota tour guide. for several years, i worked at a local magazine whose sole purpose is to highlight the lovely things about this city on the gulf, and even now that i don't anymore, i still like to think i get about and about a good deal.

so when my aunt linn, who's been visiting from scranton, pennsylvania, told me she found the cutest cafe ever -- one that i'd never heard of -- i was a little wary.

turns out, though, that she was right. the garden cafe at shoogie boogies is, hands-down, the most delightful little place i've ever been in sarasota. it serves light fare -- i had a quinoa bowl and a pear-and-walnut salad; aunt linn had quiche -- and sells the most beautifully packaged products, everything from soap to tea to wine to little trinkets for the home. plus, even better, there's a whole room devoted to dessert.

kathryn kittinger, shoogie boogies' owner, is a photographer who also sells her work in the space, and it's just lovely, as well. you can read the story of how shoogie boogies came to get its unique name here, and find out more about the cafe and garden here. and seriously, if you're in sarasota, seek it out. it's worth discovering for yourself.

photos by me; see more here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

committing to...

my one-and-only commitment for this week.

i think it's a pretty good one.

photo: paper owls

Thursday, December 9, 2010

winter wonderland.

we've been having a cold snap here in florida, and while i'm kind of like, oh-my-gosh-i-am-not-used-to-temperatures-in-the-30s-ever (no, you shouldn't feel sorry for me)(yes, this from a girl who wants desperately to live in new york or boston or philadelphia at some point), i've enjoyed bundling up in my oft-neglected sweaters, wearing close-toed shoes, shuffling around the house in socks, and having a mug of hot coffee or tea in my right hand at all times. it just makes everything feel festive. especially while decorating my tiny tree and belting out christmas carols at the top of my lungs (no one lives below me, so it's ok). it kind of makes up for all the craziness of the week, you know?

how have your weeks been, friends?


photo by keksofant

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

books: great house, by nicole krauss.

to say that nicole krauss' new book, great house, is not an easy read would be an understatement. it's not that it's slow or overly complex in its themes; it's just that its characters manage to be incredibly complicated, deeply flawed people that add even more gravity to a book that has very few moments of levity to begin with.

to be frank: if you're sad, this book will not uplift you.

but all that being said, great house is a book that leaves an indelible mark, a book that i didn't want to close too quickly when i got to the last page because i felt like doing so would take away from how much i genuinely loved it.

the characters in great house have all experienced incredible losses -- losses of people, of items, and, in some cases, of memories. the book centers first and foremost around a writing desk. this desk has been passed through the novel's cast of characters and takes on a different meaning for each one of them (and it should be said that one of the characters in this book is the art of writing, and another, i believe, is the desk itself). the novel alternates between four main points of view, people who have each had some relationship to this desk, and its a testament to krauss' talent as a writer that these points of view weave together seamlessly, almost effortlessly. the transitions never feel abrupt, and no one character's story feels weightier than another's; krauss does a good job of remembering that grief is grief, no matter what.

but i think my most favorite part of great house is krauss' writing itself -- it's gorgeous. this may sound strange, but the aesthetics of sentences are extremely important to me. i am a person who believes that how something is said is almost -- if not equally -- as important as what is being said, and the prose in great house is definitely its brightest star. krauss manages to make ordinary details (a lock of hair, crumbs on a kitchen floor) seem extraordinary, and it's this attention to detail that grounds the book; allows its readers to truly see and connect with the hulking shadow of a desk, of a woman sitting in her armchair, of a man driving his sedan down a dark road.

the history of love, krauss' previous book, is one of my very favorites, and i was concerned that great house wouldn't live up to love's brilliancy. i needn't have worried. while this isn't a novel i'll pick up and reread often, simply because it's so emotionally wrenching,  it's one that has certainly earned a prominent place on my bookshelf, and one that i'll recommend to others and hold up as an example to the next books on my list.

photo by honey and jam, via mary

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

loving: sparkly baubles from spool no. 72

the holidays are the best time of year to pull sparkly bits and baubles from your jewelry box, and i am totally loving these pretty pieces from one of my favorite online shops, spool no. 72. so festive, yes?

Monday, December 6, 2010

the weekend + committing to...

happy monday, everyone! did you have a good weekend? i did -- i went to my book club on friday night and met some lovely new people; hung out with my friends k. and t. on saturday, and spent sunday relaxing, decoratng my tiny christmas tree, whipping up a batch of my favorite no-fail scones, reading and working on this week's posts. a nice weekend, indeed.

i have a busy week ahead -- work promises to be ca-razy, plus there's the usual freneticness of this time of year -- but i'm most looking forward to seeing my aunt linn, who's flying in from pennsylvania to visit for a long weekend. she and i always have fun together, and i'm excited to spend time with her.

so in the spirit of those happy thoughts, here are my commitments for the next few days. tell me yours, won't you?

+ get my tooth fixed. this is not as much of a commitment as it is a priority. (stupid tooth.)
+ clean my apartment from top to bottom. we're talking ship-shape here.
+ enjoy the cold snap we're about to get -- it makes everything feel festive.
+ start a new book! (review on my last one to come a bit later this week. it was so good, you guys.)
+ try not to get wrapped up in the material, which is so easy at this time of year, what with gift guides and product placements galore.
+ be a supportive daughter to my mom, who is bearing the brunt of all of the family drama i mentioned last week. i'm hoping to get her down to sarasota this weekend to see my aunt, too.

see you tomorrow! xoxo 

photo by laure.

Friday, December 3, 2010

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, friends! we made it through the first few days of december! and in spite of the rough start to the week, i've started feeling the holiday spirit: we've had a cold snap here in southwest florida, and that snuggly weather, combined with holiday decorations, peppermint-flavored drinks, and the fact that i was apparently feeling particularly festive last night, has put me in a great mood going into the weekend. i don't have a whole lot of plans, but i am hoping to finally get my christmas tree up and decorated, go for a nice long walk in the crisp weather, and get some christmas shopping and wrapping done. next week is going to be another busy one, so i'm looking forward to recharging this weekend.

what are your plans? tell me, and i'll see you back here monday -- thank you, as always, for being so sweet and wonderful. xoxo

photo by celluloid mon amour

Thursday, December 2, 2010

sleighbells ring...

it's officially time to start thinking about christmas correspondence, and i officially think these cards by shanna murray are perfect for sending joyeux noels and happy holidays galore. (full disclosure: it's mean of me to even post this because they're sold out, but they're too beautiful not to share.)

are you sending cards this year? even better, do you send photo cards? (i sometimes half-seriously/half-jokingly think of sending one of oscar and me, but am afraid it would quickly catapult me into crazy cat-lady territory.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

on deep breaths.

the past five days have not been the best for my family. there was the thanksgiving-day drama, which has turned into something that's not only sad but also ongoing, even though i feel that the sadness will be worth it in the long run; then my brother had a pretty bad car accident on sunday night (thankfully, he's ok); and to top it all off, i had my own car mishap and broke off a chunk of tooth biting into an almond on monday, which is going to require dental work and is not something i was planning for during the holiday season.

i promise i'm not trying to be negative, but ugh.

and it's not only me and my family. some other friends and friends-of-friends are going through their own hard times right now, too, and i just feel like something was a little off-kilter at the end of november -- like maybe we all need to get our balance back.

obviously, my tooth and car are super minor in the grand scheme of things, but they're also the kinds of incidents that are so easy to get tangled up in and upset about. in fact, the older i get, the more i realize that, especially at this time of year, it's important to stop and  remind myself that my reaction to something is what i make it, and to remember that things often have a way of working themselves out. a little mental check-up and a deep breath are always good.

so i'm checking up and breathing deep. november is over; december is upon us now. here's wishing us all a month that's full of silver bells and christmas trees and free of chipped teeth and broken hearts.

see you tomorrow. xoxo

photo via weheartit